Will there be fewer gifts this year? How inflation will affect the 2022 US holiday shopping season.
September 20th, 2022, Hoang Nguyen

Will there be fewer gifts this year? How inflation will affect the 2022 US holiday shopping season.

The holiday shopping period has been blemished in some way over each of the last two years. In 2020, the pall of COVID-19 and reduction of holiday gatherings dampened the festive season. Last year, supply chain woes made it difficult for consumers to purchase what they wanted.

A new poll from YouGov reveals that this year, consumers in the US will be grappling with decades-high inflation ahead of the 2022 holiday shopping season.

Just as recently as August, people still proved sensitive to price hikes and the increases to cost of living—from groceries to gasoline to general retail — but to what extent will inflation impact the festive season this year?

First, let's have a spot of good news for retailers: the share of Americans who say they plan to do holiday shopping this year grew from 70% in the last two years to 91% in 2022.

But this growth will likely be tempered by inflation, with 84% of holiday shoppers saying their shopping will be impacted to some extent.

This includes 36% of holiday shoppers who say inflation will have a major impact, another third (32%) who say it will have a moderate impact, and 16% who say it will have a minor one. Less than a fifth (16%) of all holiday shoppers say inflation will not impact their shopping at all.

How might this translate to their shopping behaviors? Three-quarters (77%) of inflation-impacted holiday shoppers will be buying fewer items this year and a similar share (77%) say they will only be buying items that are on sale and marked down.

What holiday shoppers want: Opportunities for brands and retailers

To help retailers understand what’s important to holiday shoppers this year—particularly those who say they’re impacted by inflation—we asked them about the shopping experiences that matter to them.

  • Free shipping and returns are top motivators: Among US holiday shoppers who say their shopping will be impacted by inflation, over half say free returns (58%) and free delivery (57%) are essential to them.
  • Shopping early: Roughly half (51%) of all US consumers say they intend to start their holiday shopping before November this year, rising to 58% among inflation-impacted holiday shoppers. To put this into context, just three in 10 (30%) US consumers said they planned to start their holiday shopping before November last year.
  • Omnichannel holidays: Brands should have a diverse marketing strategy to catch the eye of shoppers early and often. More than four in five (86%) holiday shoppers impacted by inflation say they will shop both online and in-stores to complete their holiday shopping. Read more about how consumers are discovering new brands ahead of the holiday season, especially via social media, search engines and recommendations from other consumers.
  • Protecting customer loyalty: Nearly two in five (39%) inflation-impacted holiday shoppers say they’re likely to shop with brands or stores they don’t typically buy from to complete their holiday shopping. While close to half (48%) say they are not likely to do so, brands can ramp up customer loyalty by rewarding consumers they know are shopping early and reengage with them throughout the traditional holiday shopping season.

  • A season of conscious gifting: Amid supply shortages and shipping delays last year, some shoppers turned to secondhand goods to meet their gifting needs. The trend may well carry into this year’s holiday shopping season, with 37% of inflation-impacted holiday shoppers saying they will buy secondhand.

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YouGov RealTime Omnibus provides quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online between September 8th and 9th , 2022 with a nationally representative sample of 1,164 US adults (aged 18+ years), using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Learn more about YouGov RealTime Omnibus.