Inflation, shipping bottlenecks, stocking issues threaten holiday shoppers

Published by Chris Machado on

Holiday shoppers are questioning when and where to make holiday purchases. Due to media coverage on recent labor shortages and shipping bottlenecks, consumers are concerned with new shipping delays among other worries like package theft. 

Loqate, a company that specializes in global location data to connect businesses with customers, recently surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers to understand when, where and how they are planning to shop this year. Loqate’s Ho-ho-holiday Insights: Consumer Shopping Plans 2021 gives some fascinating findings.

People plan their holiday shopping around the convenience of shopping online.
Photo provided by Pixabay.

According to Loqate, 88% of U.S. consumers plan to be done with their holiday shopping before December while 21% of consumers planned to start as early as August of this year.

Online shopping continues to see growth. This online retail holiday season is expected to reach $200 billion for the first time; 34% of Loqate’s survey takers stated that most of their shopping would be online; 17% will shop primarily in-store and 49% will be a hybrid of the two.

In an effort to avoid late or failed deliveries, Loqate states that 30% of customers will send gifts directly to their recipients. However, package theft concerns over 80% of shoppers this year. In 2020, 43% of consumers had a package stolen at some point during the year.

Self-hailed as the “most comprehensive report of its kind,” Adobe’s Holiday Shopping Forecast report is based on two large surveys, the Digital Economy Index powered by Adobe Analytics which analyzes one trillion visits to retail sites, global views of consumer shopping of over 100 countries, and shipping figures based on over 750 companies representing 18.7+ million orders.

The biggest takeaways from the report are the statistics on out-of-stock products. So far this year, out-of-stock messages are up 172% vs 2020 (360% vs. 2019) and are expected to exacerbate later in the season. The product categories most likely to face stockouts are apparel, sporting goods, baby and toddler products and electronics.

Two recent services are expected to grow substantially this season. The use of buy now, pay later (BNPL) has grown 44% compared to 2019. Many consumers are avoiding shipping fees or the delta COVID variant by opting for curbside pickup. The service is expected to peak on Dec. 22 to 23, with the possibility of surpassing online orders at this time by 40%.

Interestingly, the report states that the average US consumer will spend 12 hours shopping online this season. Collectively, Americans will spend 414,000 years or 3.6 billion hours shopping between November and December.

Holiday season discounts are expected to be weaker this year than in previous years due to inflation caused by shortages and surging online demand. 

Adobe says that the best time to buy is during Thanksgiving week and Cyber Monday. During this period, discounts are greatest at 15 to 25%. Otherwise, discounts in the 5 to 15% range are expected as early as October. Online retailers like Newegg and Target are preparing for the holiday rush by offering holiday price match guarantees. Any lower advertised prices for prior purchases will be adjusted according to this policy.  

Many of the forecast woes this holiday season can be evaded by shopping locally. Experience Roseburg’s website has a list of local options.

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