The State Of Holiday Shopping In 2021

Consumers’ holiday shopping habits evolve each year, pushed and pulled by larger economic, social and technological developments. This year is no different, and influencer marketing firm Influence Central has released its snapshot of what 2021’s holiday shopping and celebration trends look like. It’s no surprise, during a pandemic, that ecommerce is leading the way: 47 percent of consumers surveyed plan to mostly shop online this season and another 47 percent plan to do a mix of in-store and online shopping. Only six percent of respondents plan to shop in-store only.

Social media and social media influencers are a major source of inspiration for most shoppers, the survey found. It reports that most people (69 percent) struggle over what they should buy for others on their gift lists for the holidays, and 71 percent of consumers turn to social media to discover holiday gift ideas and 64 percent anticipate social media influencers will provide them with holiday gift-giving inspiration this year. As for why they turn to social media influencers, Influence Central’s study identified uncovering great deals (60 percent), gift ideas (52 percent) and cool finds (43 percent) as their top reasons.

Social media may be where some consumers do their actual shopping. The study found that 45 percent of consumers are open to making holiday purchases directly from within a social media platform. Among these consumers, Instagram and Facebook (77 percent), blog posts (45 percent) and Pinterest (37 percent) are their most-preferred platforms.

What do shoppers want from retailers during their holiday shopping? Custom support, for one. Consumers’ leading customer service wants are being able to reach a U.S.-based customer service rep, versus one based overseas (57 percent); live chat functionality via a store’s website (55 percent); the ability to reach a live customer service representative (52 percent); an FAQ page on the website (38 percent) and an AI chatbot (nine percent).

Free shipping is another requirement for shoppers today. Influence Central found that 95 percent of shoppers consider it essential when shopping online. Additionally, 87 percent expect this free shipping without a minimum purchase in ecommerce and 92 percent consider free and easy returns essential.

Supply chain woes have also entered into consumers’ thinking. The survey found that 81 percent worry about shipping delays this holiday season and 81 percent are worried about things being out of stock early.

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