E-commerce Rings Up More Holiday Sales

New survey finds older shoppers gravitating to digital buying, more people interested in health products this season
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
E-commerce Rings Up More Holiday Sales
Older shoppers are more likely to buy online, a new survey on holiday shopping sentiments reveals.

The leaves may not have fully turned colors and fallen off the trees yet, but consumers are already making their list and checking it twice for the holidays. Concerns about product shortages and enthusiasm about getting back to a semblance of in-person celebrations are fueling early browsing and buying, and a new survey reveals what they’re looking for as the gift-giving season approaches.

A recently released poll from media and consulting firm January Digital conducted by Coresight Research shows that 59% of consumers plan to buy online, up from the 52% who felt that way in 2020, even amid a COVID-19 surge.

The survey also reveals insights that may be surprising to some. For example, younger consumers (ages 30-44) say they will spend more in store for the holidays this year, while those over age 60 are driving increases in e-commerce. This trend could be a lingering effect of the pandemic, with wary older shoppers less inclined to visit brick and mortar stores.

In another interesting finding – again, likely linked to the ongoing public health situation – 56% of consumers report that they will spend more on health products this holiday season compared to 2020. Men, in particular, express interest in buying items such as vitamins, supplements and therapeutic devices.

Food retailers keeping tabs on holiday sentiments can take heed of the survey results showing that groceries are the second top category consumers plan to spend more on this season, ahead of fashion products like apparel, footwear and accessories. Groceries bought for the holidays are expected to have a net gain of 22% over 2020. 

Survey respondents also expressed trust in retailers, reporting that they choose retailers for ease and convenience, the ability to choose from more brands and a wider product selection. Only 19% of participants said they prefer to buy directly from a manufacturer or brand. 

“In mid-October, we already find ourselves in an ultra-competitive holiday shopping season, with consumers recognizing the pressures of a broken supply chain and having higher-than-ever expectations of convenience,” summed up Sarah Engel, chief marketing officer and chief people officer for January Digital. “With this in mind, it is vital to understand how consumers feel and how they are spending. They are prioritizing health products, and they expect fast, free shipping and easy, free returns. Consumers are also shopping via social media more than ever, and they won’t show up empty-handed for the holidays if the product they want is stuck in port.” 

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