Annual holiday local shopping survey

This Holiday Season’s Big Trend: Responsible Retail

Consumers are trading convenience for environmental responsibility this holiday season, according to new research from Accenture.

Accenture’s “13th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey,” based on an online survey taken by 1,500 U.S. consumers, found that holiday shoppers are going to be looking for products that are made in sustainable ways. Survey takers said they are interested in better understanding the origin of materials and ingredients, and they want the option of packaging-free products and deliveries this holiday season.

“Responsible retailing and sustainability will be weighing on consumers’ minds this holiday season,” said Lori Zumwinkle, managing director and North America retail lead at Accenture. “They are looking at business operations that retailers exhibit, delivery of merchandise, operational efficiencies within their stores, as well as how sustainable are the products retailers carry and manufacture.”

Half of the respondents said they will not choose express shipping options this holiday season because of its impact on the environment, since faster shipping means planes vs. ground transportation. Instead, shoppers will be selecting delivery options with a lower environment impact, such as slower shipping or even in-store pick-up.

Shoppers aren’t just concerned with the environment, either, the study found. Forty-five percent of shoppers said they are more likely to shop via retailers that address wider social issues through their business practices and working conditions.

Responsible shoppers (24% of all respondents) will also be likely to rent their holiday party outfits from a retailer with a rental service (think: Rent The Runway) rather than buying a new outfit, which, according to Zumwinkle, is a means for reducing clothing waste. Also, vintage seems to be in vogue this holiday season for the same reason, as 48% of respondents said they would consider giving secondhand clothing as gifts, and even more—56%—said they would welcome gifts of this kind for themselves.

Shoppers are becoming more health-conscious as well. For instance, they expect to spend more this year on fruits, plant-based foods, and organic and vegan foods while spending less on cakes, desserts, other sweet treats, and soda.

People Still Love Stores

Most shoppers said they plan to shop both online and in-store this holiday season, with half of holiday shopping, on average, expected to happen in a store or mall. In fact, a whopping 82% of respondents cited lower prices as the top factor that would tempt them to make an in-store purchase, followed by special offers/discounts (77%).

The survey also found stores still play an important role when it comes to inspiring shoppers’ gift ideas and subsequent purchases online: Consumers said they are significantly more likely this year than last to purchase an item online after seeing it in a store.

“Consumers believe that stores are inspirational,” Zumwinkle said. “Stores give them creative ideas around gift giving and what to purchase, and they love the experience that stores provide them. To me, this an opportunity for retailers to really innovate and bring the consumer into the store to help them think differently about gift-giving.”

Americans expect to spend $637 on holiday shopping this year, on average, with approximately six in seven respondents (85.7%) planning to spend either the same (57%) or more (28%) than they did last year. Fifteen percent said they anticipated spending less, up slightly from 11% year over year. As reasons why, they cited rising food bills (32% of respondents) and the desire to limit their credit card debt (31%).

“Retailers need to plan their strategy around the customer experience, leveraging data to really understand who are their most valued customers, as well as where they are and where they shop, and creating experiences for consumers so that it’s fun and inviting while they shop,” Zumwinkle said.

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