Peak purchasing preview

We asked consumers when and how much they expect to spend this holiday. The answers weren’t what we were expecting.

In all the news headlines discussing the current state of the pandemic, no single character has been doing more work than the question mark at the end of the sentence, “A return to normalcy?.” Is the increase in traffic to stores a temporary splurge of shoppers dying to get out of the house, or does it have staying power? Will inflationary price increases and supply chain issues throttle demand? Will the COVID-19 Delta variant deliver a lump of coal this holiday?

While in 2020 we at least knew that the pandemic had shuttered stores and driven consumers online heading into an unprecedented (and home-bound!) holiday season—this year we are all still vigorously shaking our magic eight balls hoping to better understand where consumer sentiment will land. So, we decided to crowdsource clairvoyance—and asked consumers what they expected to do and see this peak.

Key takeaways:

  • Holiday spending, if consumers keep to their expectations, will not be significantly different from last year.
  • Channel preferences will continue to fluctuate between in-store and online, as store-focused shoppers are seeing only a nominal edge over those who plan to shop more online in the coming months.
  • 42% of consumers are already setting aside money to budget for holiday purchases, indicating some concern about discretionary budgets and household income.
  • Consumers plan to finish one-third of their holiday shopping before peak this year—and that number grows to an astonishing 43% among Millennials.
  • This shift to earlier purchasing may be heavily influenced by consumer wariness about supply chain issues like product shortages and long manufacturing lead times.


worried consumers

Generational differences:

  • Somewhat surprisingly, younger consumers (GenZ, with an average 67% saying they expect impacts) are most concerned by supply chain impacts and Baby Boomers (though a majority 57% are still concerned), are the least stressed-out generation. Boomers were the generation (albeit small - 27%) to say there would be no impact on shopping experiences.
  • While consumers overall were most concerned about shortages of products/inventory this holiday season, a staggering 3 in 4 GenZ respondents said they expect an impact on shopping experience. And as any brand that offers ‘product drops’ knows, the perception of scarcity drives word-of-mouth and premium pricing. 
  • At least a quarter of Boomers believe that none of these issues will impact their shopping experience. We’re guessing they’re either cutting back on purchases (see planned spending above) or maybe going DIY this holiday?

BOXpoll™ by Pitney Bowes, a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture,and ecommerce logistics. Conducted by Pitney Bowes with Morning Consult //2000+ consumers surveyed June-July 2021.© Copyright Pitney Bowes Inc.

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