Despite tighter budgets this year, Americans still plan on holiday shopping

Hoang NguyenData Journalist
November 19, 2020, 6:00 PM UTC

We know holiday shopping is likely to be different this year. For instance, three in ten Americans (30%) say their shopping budget for this holiday season will be tight compared to last year’s budget. But there is some brightness to the gloom for retailers. Most Americans (69%) — including 74% of those with smaller budgets — plan on shopping online or in-person at some point this holiday season.

YouGov surveyed consumers to better understand how the coronavirus pandemic impacts their holiday shopping plans. Two in five Americans (41%) say their shopping budget this year is about the same as last year’s holiday budget though few (8%) indicate they will be spending more this holiday season.

When asked about when they intend to start their holiday shopping, 45% say they plan on starting before Black Friday and Cyber Monday. One in nine (11%) say they will start their holiday shopping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday period and 13% say they will start at some point in December. Roughly one in six Americans say they will not be shopping at all this year (17%).
Throughout the course of the pandemic, there’s been a disruption of in-person spending accompanied by an acceleration of online spending.

Of those who plan to do holiday shopping, behaviors look mixed. Almost a quarter of this segment (23%) tell us that they are spending more online but around the same proportion (22%) tell us that they are spending less. And while the picture for in-person shopping is clearer – there is a marked decrease for in-person spending (39%) – a significant proportion (16%) have spent more at physical stores.
Alongside this acceleration of online spending comes increased engagement with a variety of media channels. Holiday shoppers say that since the start of the pandemic, they’ve spent more time watching TV (43%) and on-demand content (e.g., live recordings, Netflix) (38%). Time spent on social media has also surged during the pandemic: large shares of holiday shoppers say they’ve been spending more time browsing platforms such as Facebook (33%), Instagram (20%), and Twitter (17%).
Methodology: The data is based on the interviews of 29,011 US adults aged 18 and over who answered the question, ”Thinking of the holiday season, when do you plan on starting your holiday shopping this year?” All interviews were conducted online, and results have been weighted to be nationally representative. 

Image: Getty