Free Shipping Will Be More of a Sweet Spot Than Deals for Holiday Shoppers

More consumers are concerned about the economy than their own finances – 30% will spend less as a result.

Port Washington, NY, October 26, 2020 –The 2020 holiday shopping season was kicked off earlier this year with Amazon Prime Days and competing retail promotions in mid-October, and while consumers are always looking for good deals, their sweet spot this holiday will be free shipping, reports The NPD Group. According to insights from NPD’s annual holiday purchase intentions study, free shipping, for the first time, was identified as the number one factor influencing where consumers decide to shop this holiday. A finding that corresponds with consumers increasing use of online shopping due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Consumers plan to do more of their holiday shopping online this year, and this includes shipping gifts to family and friends with whom they won’t be able to celebrate in person this year,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor, retail. “The addition of shipping fees to all of these deliveries is a bigger financial burden on consumers than getting the best deal on the item itself.”

Although the holiday shopping season began earlier than ever before this year, it’s just the beginning for 52% of U.S. consumers who plan to start their holiday shopping on Thanksgiving Day or later. This is not to say that consumers didn’t shop Amazon Prime Days and the competing retail promotions. General merchandise sales results from NPD’s early indicator report* for the week ending October 16, 2020 show the early promotions brought a 21% boost to dollar sales compared to the same week last year; but only a 2% lift in sales compared to the week in July 2019 when Amazon’s online shopping event and competing retailer promotions took place.

As far as holiday spending goes, consumers plan to spend an average of $691 this holiday season, which is less than last year’s anticipated holiday spending, but on par with 2018 plans. The number of those who plan to spend the same amount they did last year declined by 11 points compared to last year, mostly in favor of those who plan to spend less.

Concern about the state of the U.S. economy is a contributing factor to consumers’ spending intentions. Fifty-seven percent of shoppers rate the state of the economy poorly (up from 37% last year), and 30% say they will spend less because of the state of the economy (up from 23% in 2019). On the flip side, consumer feelings about their personal financial situation has not changed since 2019, and 29% of consumers will spend more because they have fewer expenses related to travel, dining out, etc. as part of the current departure from experiences.

“Through much of 2020, retail spending as a whole has not seen the big declines expected, pointing to the consumer’s willingness to spend despite economic uncertainty,” says Cohen. “This year consumers appear to have more interest in ‘retail therapy’ and an aspiration to return to normalcy. We also know that, historically, consumers are pre-conditioned when it comes to holiday shopping behaviors, which means even the best promotions won’t drastically alter the core trends of the season.”

Source: The NPD Group/Annual Holiday Study

*Industries Included: Apparel, Footwear, Auto Aftermarket, Watches, Housewares, Small Domestic Appliances, Toys, Video, Sports Accessories, Consumer Technology, Office Supplies, Prestige Beauty, Juvenile Products

About The NPD Group, Inc.
NPD offers data, industry expertise, and prescriptive analytics to help our clients grow their businesses in a changing world. Over 2,000 companies worldwide rely on us to help them measure, predict, and improve performance across all channels, including brick-and-mortar, e-commerce, and B2B. We have services in 19 countries worldwide, with operations spanning the Americas, Europe, and APAC. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, books, B2B technology, consumer technology, e-commerce, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, juvenile products, media entertainment, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, toys, and video games. For more information, visit Follow us on Twitter: @npdgroup.

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