Run the Numbers: This Is What Shoppers Really Want From Retailers During the Holidays

Run the Numbers unpacks the data that’s driving top retail trends in the industry.

When it comes to holiday shopping, nothing beats a good deal.

Second only to the quality of a product is price, which continues to remain top of mind for many consumers. According to Deloitte’s annual holiday economic forecast, three quarters of surveyed shoppers called it out as one of the most important factors in their purchasing decisions.

“Every year respondents tell us that the most important factor is discounts,” said Rod Sides, vice chairman and U.S. leader of retail, wholesale and distribution. “This year that tops out with not just promotions but also free shipping.”

Deloitte 2019 holiday survey

In its report, the advisory services firm, which polled nearly 4,500 respondents during one week in September, found that promotions are expected to influence the purchasing decisions of 81% of consumers this holiday season.

And while 64% of shoppers value convenience, a whopping 85% said they would choose free shipping over fast shipping, with more than two thirds willing to wait three days to a week for no-cost delivery. Retailers that offer BOPIS (buy online, pick-up in store) services also have an advantage: Almost half of those surveyed said they plan to use the option this holiday season.

Deloitte 2019 holiday survey

“This has stayed consistent over the last three to five years,” Deloitte’s researchers wrote. “The last-mile supply chain, or how the product is delivered to consumers, has become another key battleground. [But] apart from last-minute gift purchases, consumers have clearly shown that free over fast for the holidays is their preferential delivery option.”

Overall, Deloitte projected a 4.5% to 5% increase in retail sales during the season, while consumers plan to spend $1,496 per household this year. It marks a slight drop from last year’s $1,536, with today’s retailers facing challenges from shifting consumer spending habits, the impact of the U.S.-China trade war and a shorter-than-usual holiday period.

A Commerce Department report released last week noted that retail sales in the U.S. unexpectedly declined for the first time in seven months, recording a 0.3% drop in September’s sales, to $525.6 billion. However, consumer spending during the second quarter rose at a 4.6% annualized rate, representing the strongest surge in four and a half years.

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