Well, PricewaterhouseCoopers believes there will be several major trends and factors driving sales this holiday shopping season, and tries to advise retailers on how best to capitalize on them this year.
First and foremost, PwC is predicting that consumers will be willing to shell out more for the holidays this year than in the past, with holiday shoppers predicted to spend 10 percent more this holiday shopping season for a grand total of $1,121 each. Consumers who make less than $50,000 per household are expected to be the largest spenders this holiday season due to increased confidence in the economy.
Those oh-so-adorable hipsters are also expected to fuel the holiday shopping boom this year – defined as upwardly mobile, college-educated millennials living in “hip” urban areas, they are expected to spend $500 more this year than the average consumer – but, get this, these hipsters are expected to spend about a third of that on themselves.
Gen Z, the generation typically defined as those between the age of 14 and 19, is also expected to play a major part this year in holiday shopping, as they now number about 86 million consumers in the U.S. But unlike their millennial counterparts who value experiences the most, Gen Zers want digital content, especially photos and videos, and product reviews to inform their purchase decisions.
PwC is also forecasting a 25 percent increase in digital sales as retailers continue to buildout and invest in their digital channels, mobile and omnichannel integration. And millennial parents are about two times as likely as the average consumer to shop by mobile this holiday season; also, since they seem more optimistic about the economy, 75 percent of millennials plan to start shopping earlier this holiday season and spend greater.
Mobile shopping in total is also expected to jump about 25 percent this holiday shopping season.
Shipping methods and the timeliness of deliveries is also becoming a larger part of consumers’ concerns this holiday shopping season, which is why about 60 percent of retailers said they plan to provide free shipping and returns this year, as well as offering multiple options for pickup, delivery and returns (such as in-store after ordering online so products can reach consumers the fastest.)
Holiday sales are also expected to begin sooner than ever before this season – and also conclude sooner than ever before. Of those consumers that PwC surveyed, 64 percent said they planned to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday even rolled around, while 29 percent said they hoped to be completely done with holiday shopping by then.
Another big component of holiday revenue this year will be charitable causes, as consumers are expected to donate an average of $244 to their favorite causes this holiday season. Consumers also indicated they tended to view retailers who made charitable gifts more favorably as well, which might begin to explain why 75 percent of retailers said they planned to do so during the holidays this year.
Brands are also going to be a big driver of revenue this holiday season, but not just big name labels and major brands. Although 80 percent of consumers surveyed indicated that brands mattered to their purchasing decisions, 75 percent said they planned to shop locally this holiday season and 56 percent said they planned to seek out independent retailers this year.
And the marketplace for pets should certainly not be forgotten this holiday season either, as about half of all U.S. households are expected to purchase gifts for their pet this holiday season as well. The average spend is expected to be $62 on pets this holiday season, although millennials will spend more than others at $81 each on their pets.
PwC believes that if retailers follow these basic guidelines this holiday season, there will be no lumps of coal in anyone’s stocking, but instead the possibility of record-breaking holiday sales.
Whether or not these trends bear out through the holiday and beyond will be a potentially interesting phenomenon to keep an eye on.