As the weather cools, consumers begin to warm up their searches for the best deals to check off their holiday shopping lists. The expectations for significant discounts coupled with shifting shopping behaviors creates opportunities for brands who are able to evolve and provide positive shopping experiences.

So what are people looking for as they begin their holiday shopping, and how much time do retailers have to prepare?

To find out, we conducted a study that reached 1,038 DISQO Audience members and gained more insight into how people choose to shop during the holidays. Survey questions explored the following topics:

  1. Holiday shopping plans for 2019
  2. Holiday shopping progress at the time of taking the survey
  3. General vs. holiday shopping preferences
  4. Considerations for Black Friday 2019 and Cyber Monday 2019
  5. Favorite sale occasion of the year

Plans for 2019

According to our audience, the vast majority of people (92%) are planning to shop for the holidays this year. When the survey was conducted in late October, 14% of respondents revealed that they had already completed all of their holiday shopping for the year. Another 11% had completed most of their shopping and 28% had completed some. This left almost half (47%) who had completed none of their holiday shopping just a couple months prior to the gift-giving season.

Are consumers waiting to see what deals will come up before they choose to spend? Do they consciously make an effort to wait?

General Shopping Preferences

To answer these questions, we first decided to gauge general shopping preferences, specifically looking into where consumers like to shop. About 27% stated that they prefer to shop solely online, while 25% enjoy shopping only in-store. Nearly half (48%), however, prefer to shop both online and in-store.

How do shopping behaviors and preferences during the holiday season compare to general shopping habits? When asked how people plan to shop for the holidays this year, 21% plan on only purchasing gifts online and 18% plan to only visit physical stores. Meanwhile, the majority of consumers (61%) will turn to both online and in-store shopping to fulfill their shopping lists, suggesting that more care and consideration is given to these purchases than general shopping endeavors. Simply put, people are more likely to shop in multiple places (both online and in-store), in order to find the perfect gift.

In-Store Holiday Shopping

So why is in-store shopping so popular for the holidays? While there are numerous factors at play, people reported that they want to physically compare products (62%), reaffirming the notion that holiday purchases are given significant consideration.

Granted, personal shopper satisfaction still plays a role, as nearly half (48%) go in-store so they can get their products instantly, a third (33%) find it more convenient, and almost a quarter think in-store shopping is easier (23%) and faster (23%). Unsurprisingly, fewer people felt they could find better deals (19%) or more options (14%) in-store.

Online Holiday Shopping

For retailers looking to optimize their online sales, consumer motivators for shopping online provides some insight. In short, people are looking for convenience (66%), reduced stress (46%), and general ease (41%). Of course, shoppers still expect to find better deals (30%) when shopping online.

Understanding that a convenient and frictionless user experience is of high importance for holiday shoppers, where should retailers focus their short term optimization efforts? Looking at those who enjoy shopping online and the devices they use, optimizing the user experience for mobile devices is highly advised. In total, 68% of people will use a mobile device during their holiday shopping, with 60% planning to use their phones and 21% planning to use their tablets.

Black Friday vs Cyber Monday 2019

For retailers, the holidays begin with high hopes for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Generally speaking, shopper participation for Black Friday (52%) and Cyber Monday (53%) tends to be relatively equal. As habits can change and individual years may vary from long term trends, we also asked participants whether they plan to shop during the sales this year. Interestingly, Cyber Monday is generating more interest than Black Friday this year (64% plan to shop Cyber Monday sales compared to 56% for Black Friday).

Comparing sales throughout the year, a notable majority (69%) agree that Black Friday offers better deals than other sales throughout the year. Meanwhile, 63% agree that Cyber Monday deals are better than other sales. The overlap between these may also suggest that people view these sales as related shopping events. Given many retailers’ tendency to offer extended sales that run through the Thanksgiving weekend, this blurring of events is understandable.

Nevertheless, the deals offered during late November are quite impactful on shopping behaviors, as a majority of people will hold off on their holiday shopping to see what deals are available during Black Friday (55%) and Cyber Monday (52%).

What products do people look forward to purchasing during Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Overall, the top items for both sales include electronics, clothing, toys & games, shoes & accessories, and media.

Favorite Sale Occasion

Which sale occasion comes out as the top choice? Black Friday (40%) takes the lead as the favorite sale of the year, followed by Cyber Monday (18%), and Amazon Prime Day (10%).

A study we conducted on Amazon Prime Day 2019 earlier this year revealed price (65%), free shipping (59%), product selection (58%), and delivery speed (56%) as the top reasons consumers choose to shop on Amazon.

Unsurprisingly, Prime Day garners more traffic than usual for the site, with 21% of all respondents claiming they browsed the site during the sale this year and 30% revealing that they made a purchase during the promotional period.

Putting it all Together

The end of the year poses a significant opportunity for brands and retailers to capture the attention of consumers and increase traffic to their stores. Multiple devices to shop from, longer promotional periods, and an overall added sense of convenience in the holiday shopping process is a must from a consumer standpoint. Consumers value quality, simplicity, and speed in the buying process, and these factors drive their decision making on and off of the holiday season. Leveraging accurate information on customer wants and needs is how brands can increase their appeal during this competitive time of year.

About the Study

The 2019 DISQO Holiday Shopping Survey reached 1,038 DISQO Audience members. Participants answered a series of questions regarding their general shopping preferences in addition to their in-store and online holiday shopping preferences. Respondents also revealed their consideration for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019, as well as their current progress regarding holiday shopping this year.

Join the Conversation.

How do you plan to shop for the holidays this year? How much shopping have you completed so far? Join the conversation on LinkedIn or Facebook.