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The holiday shopping season is upon us and retailers are keen to understand what will drive consumer spending this year. With global supply chain issues and inflation on the rise, consumers are changing their spending habits. According to the recent Q3 Gift Card Gauge from Fiserv, economic factors are already having a significant impact on shopping patterns, to the point where one in four consumers say they plan to spend less during the 2022 holiday season.
As holiday shopping begins to accelerate, here are four trends retailers can expect to carry through the 2022 holiday season:
- The early birds are getting the worm: Consumers recognize there are many bargains to be had by taking an early-bird approach. Nearly 32 percent of consumers surveyed stated that were already shopping for gifts for friends and family because they expected rising costs and supply chain issues to hamper their holiday purchasing.
- 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.
- 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 holiday shopping. To that end, 61 percent of shoppers indicated they have noticed a lack of product selection, and 83 percent have already found desired items are out of stock.
- Demanding digital: Consumers are adapting to a changing economic and product landscape by shopping online for the holidays. Our research is showing that many consumers plan to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals (39 percent), positioning the online shopping holiday to be more popular than Black Friday (37 percent) again in 2022.
Turning to Gift Cards to Fill the Void
One strategy helping consumers address supply chain and inflation issues is to purchase gift cards. 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 holiday season will be those that can be used at discount/big-box stores, with 42 percent of consumers saying they’re likely to purchase gift cards for those stores ahead of the holidays. 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.
Consumers are finding ways to adapt to an ever-changing economic landscape and global supply chain issues, and many are turning to gift cards to ensure their holiday seasons continue to be filled with cheer.
Tom Niedbalski is vice president, gift solutions at Fiserv, a leading global provider of payments and financial services technology solutions.
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