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Post-Holiday Retail Study: Of Purchase Intentions and Realities

The Holidays sure fly by, don’t they? The hustle and bustle of traveling and hosting, cooking and cleaning, and of course holiday shopping leave time for little else. And then, it’s over.

TrendSource Trusted Insight endeavored to discover whether shoppers’ November pre-holiday purchase intentions withstood the onslaught of holiday pressures and how they compared to their post-holiday realities. Did consumers spend as much as they expected, and did they do it where and how they had anticipated? What trends are visible when comparing this year’s study to last, and how can retailers adapt to the trends this reveals? These are the sorts of insights TrendSource sought to uncover with its 2016 Post-Holiday Study, analyzed alongside the 2016 Pre-Holiday Study as well as last year’s 2015 Post-Holiday Retail Study.

In-Store Intentions Become Online Realities

Good news first: 42% of consumers spent more this year than in 2015, a full 10% more than had intended to do so. Shoppers at either end of the age spectrum (Silent and Younger Millennials) proved best at predicting and maintaining their budgets with little if any distance between expectation and execution, while 17% of Generation X and 12% of Older Millennials spent more than they had intended this holiday season.

The unexpected dollars customers spent should be good news for retailers with one notable exception. Though 49% of pre-holiday respondents indicated that—despite being turned off by the inconvenience of the in-store shopping experience—they could be drawn into brick and mortar environments by events, sales, and promotions, only 20% actually were according to the post-holiday study.

Of course, that 29% gap between intention and action obviously bodes well for retailers with powerful online environments. Indeed, 53% of respondents primarily shopped for gifts online this holiday season, increasingly gravitating towards mobile channels (up 4% from last year) as opposed to desktop, and using dedicated apps (up 15% from last year) as opposed to browsers. 

Empty Holiday Square

First and foremost among the beneficiaries of this online surge, of course, is Amazon, which once again was a top-two purchase destination in the three most popular gift categories—fashion/apparel, electronics, and toys. In both electronics and toys, Amazon enjoyed a comfortable 6% lead over its nearest competition, Best Buy and Walmart, respectively, and in fashion/apparel only trailed Kohl’s by 4%.

Also worth noting: Amazon grew across all three of the most popular gift categories in the months between pre-holiday intention and shopping reality, gaining between 2% and 3% in each gift category. As the crunch of the holidays fell upon respondents, they increasingly looked to Amazon whether shopping for fashion, electronics, or toys. This seems to indicate a growing trust in and reliance upon Amazon’s selection, speed, and overall convenience.

Purchase Influencers and the Uninfluential

Respondents turned to family and friends as well as online reviews when soliciting input about a particular purchase, and the consumer’s age governed which purchase influencer they consulted. Indeed, the younger a respondent, the more likely they were to have consulted online reviews; the older the respondent, the more likely they were to solicit opinions from those familiar to them.

One place nobody is looking for advice, however, is celebrity endorsements. While there is no quantifying the power of the subconscious in advertising, it is nonetheless fascinating that a resounding 99% of respondents indicated that celebrity endorsements had no bearing on their purchase decisions.

What Else is in the Study

These insights merely scratch the surface of the complete study. How does generation affect consumers’ purchase habits including when they shop, how they do it, and how much they spend?  How did respondents feel about giving and receiving gift cards, how did books fare relative to previous years and other gift categories, and which generation is most likely to procrastinate their shopping until the last minute? Find these and other insights by downloading the full report.

2016 Post-Holiday Study

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