Don’t look now, but Black Friday is a little over two months away. One particularly noteworthy trend on the radar of CivicScience’s ongoing tracking of consumer holiday shopping trends? The increasing role of online shopping. The latest CivicScience data show 87% of U.S. adult holiday shoppers intend to shop for at least some of their gifts online, up from 84% this time last year. 

Not only are more consumers planning to do at least some online shopping this holiday season, they’re also looking online to knock out a larger portion of their holiday lists – 45% say they’ll be doing at least half of their gift shopping online; a four percentage point increase YoY. Moreover, 21% report they’ll shop online for 75%-100% of all their holiday shopping, up from 19% late summer/early fall of last year. 

Online Shoppers Plan to Spend the Most on Clothing and Children’s Toys

Clothing makes up the largest percentage of likely holiday gift shopping among consumers planning to do at least some shopping online and those planning to only shop in-person (24% and 22%, respectively). Although children’s toys comprise a similar percentage among both segments, additional data show heavier online shoppers are more likely to be buying toys online compared to lighter online shoppers. Online shoppers also look to focus more on experience-based gifts, tech and electronics, and art. In-person-only shoppers, meanwhile, are more likely to hone in on entertainment, and gifts related to food and cooking.

Examining where online shoppers plan to spend the most this season, a plurality (34%) aren’t quite sure just yet. For those with an idea, online-only retailers like Amazon represent the likeliest choice for more than a third of respondents. Websites for big-box stores like Walmart or Target make up a distant second (14%), while specialty/chain stores represent the least likely option (2%).

Convenience Is Key in Motivating Consumers to Shop Online for the Holidays

What’s driving holiday shopping intenders to turn to the internet to shop? A look at the primary motivators finds convenience is a key factor. Avoiding the crowds (29%) and saving time (23%) lead the way as central motivations for shopping online for holiday shoppers, with searching for the best price (21%) following closely behind. While these motivators hold true for all age groups, younger adults tend to prioritize time-saving, whereas individuals aged 55 and above are nearly twice as likely to highlight crowd avoidance as their primary consideration – the looming triple threat of COVID, RSV and flu, may have a role to play.

In Guiding Where to Shop Online, Free Shipping is the Overwhelming Favorite Factor

Gauging what shoppers consider to be most important when shopping online this holiday season, 46% said ‘free shipping’, more than double the next closest consideration of ‘buying from a trusted website’ (20%). Returns appear to be less of a concern, as an ‘easy return process’ (7%) and ‘free returns’ (4%) ranked much lower. Having the ‘option to order online and pick up in store or curbside’ (7%) also ranks on the lower end. The sense of urgency for receiving orders at the moment is certainly not high at this point, so it’s unsurprising to see ‘the option to expedite shipping’ standing at 2%. 

Three Additional Insights About This Season’s Online Holiday Shoppers

  • Interestingly, nearly 1-in-5 respondents who plan on doing 75%-100% of their holiday shopping online say they do the vast majority of their everyday retail shopping (excluding groceries) in-person. On the flipside, roughly 1-in-5 of those who plan on shopping completely in-person for the holidays do the majority of their regular retail shopping online. 
  • It’s not surprising that those planning at least some online shopping are more likely to order take-out or delivery within the next week, however, they are eight points more likely than in-person shoppers to plan on dining-in at a restaurant (55% to 47%). 
  • Online holiday shoppers are more optimistic about their credit score – 46% expect their credit score to be higher in the next six months, 10 points higher than in-person shoppers. 

Want to unwrap more consumer insights as the 2023 holiday season approaches? Get in touch to see how the CivicScience InsightStore can help you dive deeper into consumer insights.