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Getting ahead of the consumer curve: Holiday shopping habits businesses need to follow

Unlike last year, older generations are more likely than their younger counterparts to take advantage of deal days.

People going about their shopping. A sign of the economy improving? — Image: © Tim Sandle
People going about their shopping. A sign of the economy improving? — Image: © Tim Sandle

Businesses are being advised to bring forward their Holiday period plans based on evidence that the season is starting earlier and earlier with each passing year, in terms of consumer behaviour. For 2023, due to inflation, consumers are seemingly beginning to plan even earlier and are thinking carefully about how to balance their holiday budgets.

Data suggests 73 percent of consumers have already noticed price increases in desired products and 81 plan to utilize shopping rewards apps and/or coupons as part of their Holiday shopping strategy.

To support this trend, Shopkick, a shopping rewards app, has surveyed over 6,000 American consumers between July 20 – July 25, 2023 to gain insight into how consumers are planning to shop this holiday season.

The results suggest 81 percent of shoppers will plan to utilize shopping rewards apps and/or coupons as part of their holiday shopping strategy to combat inflation. This leads to the following advice for businesses based on consumer trends:

Jump Start to the Season

When it comes to early holiday shopping, 38 percent of consumers plan to do their shopping before Halloween, and 44 percent will begin before Thanksgiving. Just 37 percent say they are planning to shop on Black Friday this year (a 24 percent decrease from 2021), and 20 percent plan to shop on Cyber Monday (a 47 percent decrease from 2021).

Deal Day Decline

Unlike last year, older generations are more likely than their younger counterparts to take advantage of deal days, with 40 percent of Gen X and 38 percent of Baby Boomers planning to shop on Black Friday compared to 18 percent of Millennials and 3 percent of Gen Z.

Online or In-Store

Shoppers are evenly split between shopping primarily in-store or online (50 percent respectively), compared to the 71 percent who planned to utilize both last year. Of the consumers shopping in-store, the majority (83 percent) plan to purchase holiday gifts at big box stores, followed by off-price retailers (44 percent), department stores (37 percent) and club stores (33 percent). For those prioritizing online shopping, online-only retailers reign supreme, as 77 percent of consumers plan to shop at sites like Amazon, Wayfair, Overstock and Etsy.

No Strategy, No Problem

Nearly half (42 percent) of consumers do not have (or plan to have) a holiday shopping strategy this year. For those that do, their main strategy is to utilize shopping rewards apps and/or coupons (81 percent) while others plan to shop earlier and spread out purchases (70 percent), prioritize deal days and big sales (56 percent) and prioritize purchasing gifts for their closest friends and family (55 percent).

Sale Seekers

The majority of consumers (79 percent) say that sales and promotions will influence them most when it comes to holiday purchases, while other factors such as advertisements (22 percent) and in-store holiday decor (18 percent) will also affect their shopping decisions.

Inflation Impact

The majority of consumers (62 percent) say inflation and the continuing looming recession have impacted the way they plan to shop for the coming holiday. To save money on holiday goodies, 77 percent plan to tighten their shopping budget while others plan to shop for deals and sales (48 percent), limit the people they buy gifts for (41 percent) and shop more online to save on gas (32 percent).

Sustainable Shoppers

Despite most consumers being concerned about inflation impacting their budgets, sustainability is still on consumers’ minds. The majority (60 percent) are still considering sustainability when holiday shopping this year.

Slim Spending

Thirty-nine percent of consumers intend to spend less on holiday shopping, as 68 percent have a smaller budget because of inflation. Only 17 percent plan to spend more and 35 percent of those say it’s because they have more people to shop for. Forty percent of Baby Boomers expect to shop for more people, followed by Millennials (34 percent) and Gen Z (5 percent).

Shipping Savvy

Almost all consumers (84 percent) say free shipping and returns are the most important incentive when it comes to shopping online. Other online shopping incentives include fast shipping (46 percent), flexible and extended return policies (36 percent), “buy now, pay later” (20 percent) and “buy online, pick up in-store” (12 percent).

Hottest Holiday Items

When asked what category consumers expect to spend the most on when shopping for gifts, over half (55 percent) say apparel, followed by toys and video games (44 percent), home (36 percent), electronics (36 percent), beauty (23 percent), experiences such as concert tickets, travel vouchers, etc. (16 percent) and wellness and fitness (13 percent).

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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