As if a pandemic weren’t enough, a new Oracle Retail consumer research study shows that shoppers are worried that supply chain and delivery delays will wreak havoc on the holidays. In response, 52% of Americans have already started holiday shopping or plan to shop earlier than usual. Of the respondents, 20% plan to order more gifts in case some are delayed or canceled, with that number jumping to 44% for Millennials*. Others are taking an easier path, with 34% of people (especially Baby Boomers* at 58%) noting they will buy more gift cards this year.
“As we see in the news, the supply chain challenges are a global reality. Regardless, consumers will still measure retailers on their ability to deliver on their wish lists this holiday season,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president, and general manager, Oracle Retail. “Accountability will be the name of the game. Retailers must have clear visibility into their inventory, a realistic timeline for the fulfillment, and a plan to communicate clearly throughout the order and delivery processes. Through transparency and execution, retailers can earn trust with their customers and build the potential for future loyalty.”
The survey polled 5,728 global consumers, including 512 in the United States, in September 2021. The Untold Insights survey asked consumers about their pandemic shopping habits and plans for holiday shopping. Unwrap your complimentary copy of the report.
Supply chain woes
Gift givers are worried they will be left holding an empty box as products may not be available or will take too long to arrive:
- 28% of respondents are anxious that the products they want will be more expensive due to the scarcity
- 27% are worried desired products won’t be available
- 17% are fretting that friends and family will be disappointed as they don’t get the gift they want
- 16% are concerned that favorite holiday treats, like pumpkin spice lattes, won’t be available
Santa’s sleigh on delay
Seventy-two percent of respondents will have gifts delivered to their home (up from 64% in 2020), but many (22%) are worried shipping times won’t meet their expectations and will be late—if they arrive at all. To ease their concerns, 65% of respondents say granular tracking of delivery status is very important.
- 36% of respondents say fast delivery determines whom they order from. Nine percent of consumers expect same-day delivery, 28% 1–2-day delivery, and 41% 3–5-day delivery.
- 30% of people say they will be outraged if shipments are delayed
- 38% worry gifts will arrive later than anticipated
- 25% are concerned gifts won’t arrive at all
- 18% are willing to pay more to ensure faster or guaranteed delivery
- 55% are getting creative and saying they are very likely or might use an on-demand service like DoorDash to order last-minute gifts
Adding insult to injury, even if the package finally gets to its destination, 32% of people fear porch pirates may steal it!
In-stock or out of luck
Despite the challenges, being able to get their hands on the products they want will be a critical factor in how shoppers judge retailers this season:
- 40% agree that out of stock items constitute a lousy shopping experience
- 38% say they are attracted to brands/companies based on product availability
- 22% won’t wait for a retailer to restock before they go somewhere else
Despite the lure of low prices, many consumers are not willing to wait for store holidays to get what they need. Just 37% of shoppers said they would participate in Amazon Prime Day(s) or Black Friday sales. A smaller number (26%) say they will take part in Cyber Monday events.
Buy your parents a gift card
When asked what gifts they plan to buy more of this year, gift cards emerged as the top contender:
- 34% plan to buy more gift cards (60% of Boomers and 44% of women said that is the gift they would also most like to receive)
- 26% each plan to buy more fashion apparel, home goods, and electronics
- 25% more beauty products
- 22% more footwear
Getting real on returns
They may tell you they love the gift, but nearly half of Millennials are really planning to return it. The good news for retailers; 76% of people said they are likely to buy other things when they come into a store to make a return:
- 41% of people plan to make some gift returns (67% for Millennials)
- 24% plan to return half to all their gifts (48% for Millennials)
- 60% of Gen Z* shoppers will return at least some gifts, while 90% of Boomers have no plans to return their gifts
- Men (50%) are more likely than women (30%) to make at least some returns
Delta not denting holiday shopping
Consumers seem less concerned about the pandemic, with more shoppers opting to buy in-store this year:
- 20% of consumers plan to shop mostly in-store, up from 15% in 2020; 45% are planning both in-store shopping and online shopping, up from 35% last year
- 72% feel comfortable shopping in an outdoor setting, while 66% feel comfortable shopping at an indoor mall
- When asked what makes them feel most comfortable about going out to shop, 66% said mask mandates; 15% vaccination proof for guests; 13% social distancing
*Gen Z (18-24); Millennials (25-39); Gen X (40-54); Boomers (55+)