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Home Business Christmas unwrapped: How consumers are adapting spending habits this season

Christmas unwrapped: How consumers are adapting spending habits this season

by uma
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Tom Niedbalski, Vice president – Gift Solutions, Fiserv

The festive shopping season is underway and, for many retailers, this year carries even more challenges and importance than previous years. Retailers are currently facing rising inflation, continued supply chain issues and staff shortages. At the same time, consumers are becoming more cautious in their spending due to the cost-of-living situation. In fact, one in four consumers said that they plan to spend less during the 2022 festive season, according to the recent Q3 Gift Card Gauge from Fiserv.

As holiday shopping accelerates, consumer shopping trends that will impact retailers this season include:


  1. The early birds are getting the worm: Consumers recognise there are many bargains to be had by taking an early-bird approach. Nearly 32 percent of consumers surveyed stated that they were shopping for gifts for friends and family as early as October because they expected rising costs and supply chain issues to hamper their holiday purchasing.
  2. Spreading their wealth: In line with the trend of holiday shopping beginning earlier in the year, consumers are spreading out purchases over a few months to reduce the burden on their bank accounts. In fact, 55 percent of consumers are adopting this strategy as a way to combat rising inflation — with nearly three-quarters of consumers noting that rising costs are leaving them unable to afford certain gifts.
  3. Stocking out before stockings fill up: Thirty-eight percent of consumers have serious concerns about the impact that items being out of stock will have on their shopping. To that end, 61 percent of shoppers indicated they have noticed a lack of product selection, and 83 percent have found desired items are out of stock.

Going for Gift Cards 

Gift cards have continued to grow in popularity, and this year many consumers are choosing gift cards to help them avoid the impact of supply chain issues and inflation-related price increases. With supply chain challenges impacting product availability, 60 percent of consumers are buying gift cards as an alternative.

Among the most popular gift cards this festive season will be those that can be used at large discount/retail stores, with 42 percent of consumers saying they’re likely to purchase gift cards for those stores. Other popular outlets will be online-only retailers (38 percent) and coffee shops (32 percent). While consumers continue to prefer to both give and receive physical gift cards, digital gift card giving is on the rise. Twenty-one percent of consumers plan to give at least one digital gift card this year, up from 15 percent in 2021.

An ever-changing economic landscape means consumers are having to adapt their spending habits. Retailers that are ready to respond to these evolving behaviours with the right mix of gift options at the right time will find themselves well positioned to make the most of this festive season.