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Accenture Survey Reveals a Generous Holiday Consumer

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According to Accenture’s holiday consumer survey, Americans are ready to shop this year with many reporting they plan to spend the same or more on their shopping compared to last year.

On average, the company’s data found consumers are budgeting $598 this holiday season, compared to $539 last year, with older Millennials reporting a higher-than-average plan to spend at $705. With 76 percent of consumers saying they are looking forward to spending time with loved ones over the holiday season, 75 percent also said they are planning to buy gifts for close family and 41 percent said they will buy gifts for neighbors, colleagues and friends.

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At the same time, Accenture reports that there will be a notable “generosity of spirit” extending outside the home with consumers reporting they plan to support charitable organizations and local communities. In fact, 70 percent of all consumers said they intend to make some charitable contributions this year and 21 percent intend to donate more than they did last year. Notably, at 32 percent and 28 percent, Gen Z and younger Millennials, respectively, are even more likely to spend more money on charitable donations.

With community top of mind for so many consumers, Accenture’s research also highlighted the continued emphasis on supporting local communities and revealed 58 percent of all consumers said they aim to buy from local and independent retailers this holiday season.

Consumers also said, despite the ongoing pandemic, comfort levels with in-store shopping is on the rise and more than half said they plan to do most of their holiday shopping in-store. Perhaps surprisingly, this includes 70 percent of digital native Gen Z shoppers, while 54 percent of Baby Boomers say they will do most of their shopping online.

“While the anticipated increase in consumer spend will come as welcome news to retailers, our survey shows that the events of the past year are likely to affect the spending habits of different generations of people this holiday season,” said Jill Standish, a senior managing director at Accenture and head of its retail industry group globally. “Retailers need to respond by keeping safety protocols in place and tapping into the shopping temperament in each community they are trying to serve. This requires increased local decision-making assisted by analytics tools to spot changing market conditions and evolving patterns of behavior as they happen.”

To that end, in-store experiences, like cooking classes, carol singers and children’s play areas, would be enticing in making one retailer stand out over another, according to 25 percent of overall consumers and 42 percent of young Millennial consumers.

“The events of the last year has compressed into a matter of weeks changes that would likely have taken years,” said Oliver Wright, a senior managing director at Accenture and head of its consumer goods and services industry group globally. “For instance, the pandemic forced older generations to overcome their hesitancy to shop online, an ongoing trend identified by our findings. On the flip side, younger consumers — who are already comfortable online — appear to be seeking out services and experiences that go beyond shopping. Retailers and consumer goods companies must tap into these behavioral shifts and push forward with their reinvention in order to engage a diverse, multigenerational marketplace of millions of individuals.”

Aligning with similar reports, Accenture’s survey shows a third of U.S. consumers are planning to shop earlier this season due to concern of availability — linked to the pandemic’s issues with supply and transportation. Still, according to the report, there is a disconnect between consumers and brands ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday as only 22 percent of consumers say they plan to prioritize these days for shopping, while 42 percent of retail executives said they expect these two days to represent the busiest shopping days, in a related Accenture survey.

The declining popularity of Black Friday, paired with consumers shopping earlier, said Standish, requires retailers and brands to engage consumers throughout the season. “In addition, with many people still working from home, the ability to browse and shop online, as well as pick and choose how to obtain items, is much easier for consumers — and makes it that much tougher for retailers. This year, more than ever, having a handle on inventory and the surety of supply will matter to both the consumer and the retailer.”

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