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Tuesday, November 9, 2021

2021 holidays blend digital channels, tech

Recent studies by Deloitte and JRNI reflect cautious optimism among retailers and consumers as peak shopping season draws near. The 2021 Deloitte holiday retail survey, published for the 36th consecutive year on Oct. 19, 2021, found waning pandemic anxiety and rising holiday budgets will likely lead to a 15 percent increase over last year’s holiday spend.

Oleksandr Yampolskyi, director, retail and wholesale group leader at Deloitte Ukraine, proposed early promotions could help jumpstart the season. “We can already see a decrease in anxiety around health and safety that will stimulate the overall average spend,” he said. “However, holiday shopping is not going to bounce back to the pre-pandemic levels just yet.”

Yampolskyi further noted that high-income consumers will drive a 5 percent boost in average holiday spend, predicted to reach $1,463; low-income sectors will continue to suffer and all demographic groups will face product shortages and shipping delays due to ongoing supply chain issues.

Shopping across channels, devices

Meanwhile, findings by JRNI, a scheduling technology provider, found 68 percent of U.S. and UK shoppers are shopping early online and in stores. The JRNI survey, published Oct. 19, 2021, found consumers are increasingly receptive to blending online and in-store experiences. With the easing of social distancing restrictions, 25 percent of respondents plan to shop in local stores throughout the holiday season.

Following are additional JRNI survey highlights:

  • Booking advance appointments: 20 percent of all consumers surveyed plan to schedule in-store appointments to mitigate long waits and crowded stores. 34 percent stated they prefer to shop at retailers that offer pre-booked appointments rather than stores that only accept walk-in traffic.

  • Brick-and-mortar retains appeal: While 56 percent of UK consumers and 36 percent of U.S. consumers surveyed plan to complete holiday shopping online, 26 percent of all respondents will head to retail outlets for ideas and inspiration and to complete their purchases.

  • Support for local merchants: 34 percent of consumers surveyed will visit local retail outlets to complete their 2021 holiday shopping.

John Federman, CEO at JRNI, stated the survey findings show consumers are keen to get back out after a lengthy shut-in period. “More and more are using a mixture of traditional online and in-store shopping to make the best of their budget,” he said. “The high street is evolving with new technology to help give consumers what they want—not just goods and services, but truly personal experiences. This hybrid experience of online and in-store is making shopping safe and engaging for customers.”

Amazon’s blended tech

New product offerings from Amazon also reflect public receptivity to blended technology and omnichannel offerings. Amazon Pay, for example, offers discounts to consumers who use Amazon Pay at checkout at select ecommerce sites. Consumers can use a special code to access offers, which include cash discounts, gift with purchase and a range of add-ons, Amazon representatives stated.

In addition, Amazon launched a joint promotion with Fiserv and ExxonMobil designed to provide touchless commerce options at the pump. After more than a year in development, the pay-with-Alexa initiative, now available in select markets, enables consumers to say, “Alexa, pay for gas,” without having to touch pay-at-pump devices.

Post-pandemic trends

JRNI’s Federman pointed out that consumer behavior is constantly evolving, and shoppers have become accustomed to multichannel experiences. As a result, shoppers can leverage a range of technology offerings to improve their shopping experiences, both online and offline, he stated.

“We’re working with many retailers currently, helping them take every precaution to make their stores safe, so they can welcome customers and offer new personal experiences in a relaxed environment all managed through technology,” Federman said. “It’s clear that this holiday shopping season will look much different than it has in the last two to three years, as a result of the looming threats of product shortages and ongoing concerns around the pandemic.” end of article

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