(WXMI) — During the pandemic’s second holiday shopping season, experts say it's evident COVID-19 permanently altered some consumer behaviors while adding some new trends.
Numerous retail surveys found consumers plan to continue online shopping and support local businesses. However, supply chain and inflation concerns are leading to people shopping earlier and spending more money.
According to Shopify’s annual “Black Friday / Cyber Monday” survey, 59 percent of people surveyed planned to keep their money in their communities by purchasing from independent businesses.
“I think people are starting to understand the real meaning and the importance behind shopping local,” said Jen Foley.
Foley manages Apothecary Gift Shop in Holland. She says the store has seen more customers who want to support small businesses in the weeks before Thanksgiving compared to years past.
“We have a really great tourist season all spring and summer long, but November and December are basically our make-or-break months,” said Foley.
Shopify also found holiday shopping is no longer limited to just one weekend, with brands offering deals earlier. Twenty-seven percent of shoppers said they started looking for items in early October.
Deloitte’s 2021 retail report noted a similar trend. According to its research, 68 percent of people plan to begin shopping before Thanksgiving versus 61 percent in 2020.
Those that start shopping in October or early November are likely to spend 23 percent more than those who start on or after Thanksgiving. Deloitte found shipping delays and stock-shortage worries as the main reasons behind the trend.
In-store shopping is expected to be at 33 percent, which is up from 28 percent in 2020. However, it’s still below 2018 levels.
Deloitte said online shopping is “now a holiday habit.” The percentage of people who shopped digitally jumped to 64 percent in 2020 from 59 percent in 2019. It’s expected to be at 62 percent in 2021.
Lastly, average holiday spending increased to $1,463, which is five percent higher than 2020 and near 2019 levels. Two years ago the average person spent $1,496 on gifts, experiences and other purchases.
“We’ve seen shifts in how this holiday has kind of morphed over the years,” said Scott Cowley, an assistant professor of marketing at Western Michigan University. “I just think everyone is going to have to exercise a lot more patience and Christmas cheer.”