Report: Shoppers Remain Cautious Going into Holiday Season

Retailers are bracing for strong holiday sales, but consumers are still acting cautiously due to COVID-19 pandemic conditions.
holiday shopper

That’s according to a November Insights report from Kroger’s retail data science, insights and media business, 84.51°, which examined how consumers are responding to economic trends such as inflation, the public health environment, desire for sustainability and more during the holiday shopping season. 

Just 29% of shoppers said they were extremely concerned about COVID-19 in November, down 10% from October. That may be because COVID-19 case numbers have been dropping in recent weeks, which has also improved consumer confidence to make plans. Compared to 20% in October, 37% of consumers said they feel extremely comfortable making plans in November. However, despite improved confidence, staying away from crowds is still the top reason consumers make delivery or pickup selections for online purchases. 

A whopping 95% of consumers plan to celebrate Christmas this year, and 92% plan to celebrate Thanksgiving. More than half of shoppers celebrating Christmas said they plan to shop in person and online, and 68% of people said they had already completed some holiday shopping as of Nov. 8.

When it comes to grocery shopping, 66% said more sales or promotions on seasonal items would improve the shopping experience and 50% said they want to see more items in stock. When asked about sustainability while grocery shopping, most consumers (47%) said limiting food waste was a top priority, followed by using a reusable shopping bag (34%), limiting purchases of single-use items (28%) and overall sustainability (28%).

Consumers also noticed higher costs at the beginning of November, with inflation hitting price tags at the grocery store. In particular, 83% of consumers say they notice price increases on meat and seafood, followed by produce (72%), dairy (68%) and snacks (56%).

“Although shoppers claim they would cut back on certain categories as a result of increasing price, sales in dollars and units per household have remained flat across departments over the last 12 weeks ending Nov. 6,” the Insights report indicated.