A kinder, gentler shopper?

Consumers expect to have issues shopping this holiday. Here’s how they’re adapting.

Last month, consumers told us they did not plan to drastically change their holiday spending from last year— despite the emergence of the new Delta COVID-19 Delta variant—and that the in-store versus online preferences weren’t going to change much from where they are now (ahem, stay tuned on that one).

Now, with new restrictions and mandates being introduced, the impacts may be feeling more real:

  • Labor shortages in the manufacturing supply chain are slowing the flow of goods, creating product shortages.
  • The increasing cost of labor and transportation is raising the price of many end-consumer products.
  • Limited labor in the service sector is hampering the operation of stores and other retail locations.
  • New restrictions to address rising infection rates are limiting the capacity and convenience of in-person shopping.

So, we went back to the well and asked consumers whether they planned to change their behaviors due to these issues while shopping this upcoming holiday season.


Key takeaways:

  • Gen Z stood out in how their responses diverged from other consumers; they don’t expect to be as patient (46% vs 54% all consumers), but they plan to be more empathetic with frontline employees (46% vs 39% all consumers); and they expect to buy more gift cards than other consumers this holiday (30% vs 26% overall).
  • Gen Z are more likely to shop for less popular products, hoping to avoid delays or shortages (21% vs 15% overall).
  • Millennials are more likely to pay for faster delivery to avoid delays (20% vs 15% overall).
  • Millennials are more likely to avoid stores (23% vs 18% total), while Gen Z are more likely to avoid online shopping due to potential delays (18% vs 14% overall).
  • Gen Z say they will be calling customer service less because they’ll be understanding of shortages/delays (22% vs 14% overall) while high income consumers are most likely to call for help (18% vs 10% overall).
  • Gen X (58%)—as well as those living in the Midwest (59%)—expect to be more patient (54% overall).
  • Those in the Midwest are (perhaps unsurprisingly) most likely to expect to be nicer to retail & restaurant workers (46% vs 39% overall).
  • Suburban consumers are most likely to buy fewer products because of delays and shortages (29% vs 25% overall).
  • High income, suburban consumers and older consumers are most likely to resort to gift cards due to supply chain issues (30-31% vs 26% overall).


BOXpollTM by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture,and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2094 US consumers surveyed September 2021.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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