How the pandemic is changing Christmas shopping habits

Posted at 10:40 AM, Nov 23, 2020

Shopping this holiday season is going to be very different for many people due to the pandemic. And the types of gifts are changing, too.

"There is no question that 2020 has been built around this pandemic. In every way our life has changed from how we work, to how we live, to, of course, how we shop. And this year we have seen the rise in COVID-related gifts," said Michael Parrish DuDell, Chief Strategy Officer for CouponFollow.

CouponFollow conducted a Black Friday shopping survey and found 39% of surveyed shoppers say they're going to gift a face covering to their loved ones.

"About 33-34% expect to be giving some type of hand sanitizer. So, this year, the stockings might be full not so much of candy but of these more COVID-related products," said DuDell.

CouponFollow also looked at how much money people will be spending this holiday season, and broke it down by generation. Millennials and Generation Z plan to spend more money, while Baby Boomers plan to spend less.

The National Retail Federation found that, overall, people plan to spend $1,000, which is $50 less than last year.

"Most of that decrease, $45, is coming from people saying, 'No, I'm going to spend on gifts, I'm going to spend on holiday items, but I might hold off on 'treat myself'-type purchases," said Katherine Cullen, Senior Director for Industry and Consumer Insights at the National Retail Federation.

Cullen also said slightly more people than last year, about 60%, will be shopping online this holiday season, as well as using features like curbside pickup. But that still leaves a lot of people shopping in person.

"What we found is that people were willing to take that risk (of shopping in-person) but that 86-89% of folks say they know it's a little bit risky to shop, but 36% overall, that includes all the generations, about 36% say that they in fact are going to show up and a large portion of that is going to be the Baby Boomer generation," said DuDell.

The NRF survey also showed a shift in the types of gifts people will be purchasing this year.

"You know, gifts of experience have been a real trend the last few years, but with everyone at home you can’t do as many of those experiences so we’re seeing a return to kind of buying physical things," said Cullen.

Regardless of what you buy or how you buy it, the NRF is encouraging people to shop early this year, as many mail services and the post office could be inundated with online shopping deliveries.