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How Will Consumers Shop This Holiday Season?

Study looks at sentiment toward COVID-19, inflation
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
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Despite inflation and pandemic concerns, consumers are expected to have more celebrations than last year this holiday season.

Consumers have been adapting to new and different ways of grocery shopping over the past several years, from in store to e-commerce and back again. New research from 84.51°, the retail media arm of the Kroger Co., is shining a light on how consumers feel today about grocery shopping amid the pandemic and record inflation, as well as how they’re likely to shop this upcoming holiday season.

As of July 2022, 30% of shoppers had no concern over COVID-19, though 71% of shoppers had extreme concern about inflationary prices. While global events are affecting supply chains and inflation levels, fewer pandemic safety restrictions are likely to lead to a positive rebound in consumer shopping behavior, according to the findings. 

Those inflation levels, however, are likely to change the way consumers shop for their groceries, especially when it comes to omnichannel and hybrid purchasing. 

“Last year, the hybrid shopper emerged as an established segment of consumers who move comfortably between in-person and online shopping,” the research stated. “This broad spectrum of consumers ranges from low-e-commerce-loyal ‘Digital Dabblers’ to ‘Digital Champs’ who are highly dedicated to shopping online. No matter where they fall, these shoppers continue to grow in number while adding online and in-store visits to their routines in new and numerous ways.”

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As for holiday shopping in 2022, many consumers are expressing a desire to get back to normal despite lingering inflationary issues. Some 93% of shoppers plan to buy brands or products similar to or more expensive than what they typically buy, and shoppers will be looking for gifts and decorations to accompany more festivities this year. 

Higher prices have made consumers less brand loyal, but the research found that shoppers are still particular about the brand of their holiday centerpiece items, including ham, turkey and stuffing. Additionally, even the most digital-savvy customers prefer to shop in-person for these types of items. 

“With shoppers heading to the store to purchase their main courses, focus efforts around in-store displays located near those entrée items,” the study states. “Consider creating bundle offers for a certain dollar amount off their total basket when they pick up their entrée along with other selected items.”

When it comes to holiday giving, 84.51° foresees a 20% increase in gift card purchases this season. While this is the case, the company also recommends that brands position their products as a more personal alternative to gift cards by offering an easy-to-make gift or festive floral decor.

Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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