Consumer purchasing power matches enthusiasm despite fears of COVID-19 variant this holiday season, report Blue Yonder and GWI – Retail Times


As the retail industry gears up for the Golden Quarter, new research launched by GWI, promoted by Blue Yonder – a leader in digital supply chain and omnichannel commerce execution – examines the impact changes in customer confidence and potential supply chain tensions over the holiday season.

After polling 13,394 consumers aged 16 to 64 surveyed in the UK and US since the second quarter of 2021, the study found that despite external unknowns, this year could overtake Black Friday of the last year as consumers look to catch up for 2020.

The findings come at a time of growing speculation that panic buying is inevitable this season as retailers struggle to stock shelves and maintain full-time staff while consumers are already looking. cross items off their Christmas shopping list before the shelves are emptied. Rather, however, research points to a hopeful season for retailers, suppliers and consumers.

The main research results highlight:

● Purchasing power matches consumer enthusiasm during donation season

37% of UK consumers believe their personal finances will improve in the coming months, compared to just 23% last year. Almost 30% of Black Friday shoppers in the UK and US say they plan to spend more this year than last year. (GWI Zeitgeist Black Friday Research)

● Santa’s Workshop is open for business – earlier than normal

The study found that 29% of gift givers in the UK say they will plan their winter holidays at least a month in advance. (GWI research on July 2021 holiday shopping)

As consumers prepare to spend more this season, any advanced planning means increased demand for retailers and supply chains. Blue Yonder recommends that brands and retailers: 1) pay early attention to the visibility of their supply chains to know where their inventory is, 2) work to better forecast customer demand, and 3) deliver a more improved omnichannel experience for buyers.

● Finding “Omnichannel Nirvana”

Overall, consumers continue to opt for online shopping experiences as 38% say their digital purchases have increased from last year, while 91% believe their online purchases will stay the same or will increase in the future. (GWI research on July 2021 holiday shopping)

More generally, the majority of UK-based Black Friday shoppers plan to shop at online retail sites (70%), followed by branded sites (37%) and in-store purchases in department stores (27%). However, the store remains a dominant force, especially for older consumers. In the UK, 55% of baby boomers say they prefer to buy in-store rather than online. (Research GWI Core Q2 2021)

● COVID-19 variant scares Black Friday shoppers

48% of Black Friday shoppers are moderately or extremely concerned about COVID-19 variants. (GWI Zeitgeist Black Friday Research)

Coupled with the fact that consumers are returning to lock-in habits of bulk buying – most notably in the grocery sector where more UK consumers are buying basic products online than last year, it is clear that a hybrid model is needed to ensure that all customers have access when and where they need it.

Delivering personalized, omnichannel experiences to customers can help alleviate some of these concerns: implementing same-day click-and-collect or rethinking the role of the storefront can help people live the shopping experience. that they are looking for the most, whether it is based on speed, ease or durability.

● Amid shortages, shoppers seek to vary their gifts

As we head into the holiday season, we are seeing stockouts, price increases and a shift among consumers of traditional products. According to data, 34% of UK gift givers are looking for the latest tech deals this season, compared to clothing and accessories (63%); entertainment (50%); jewelry (46%) versus offering an experience – such as a trip to the spa or a day (39%). (Research GWI Core Q2 2021)

As experience shopping begins to overtake merchandise, it will be important for supply chain companies to adapt to the continuing changing demands and what this ultimately means for retailers to. long term. Currently, retailers and sellers have to make decisions earlier, which makes it difficult to change course later in the year. Addressing the impact of external factors on shifts in purchasing trends will be critical to “getting it right” in 2022.

Retailers are working hard to deliver this year in light of supply chain stressors, lingering fears of COVID-19 and remoteness from Main Street. Research highlights three ingredients of a successful ‘golden quarter’ for retailers: delivering a seamless omnichannel experience, promoting transparency across supply chains to ensure inventory is available as it is needed as customers need it, and accurately forecast the increase in seasonal demand.

“While we still have to deal with the problems of COVID-19, people are ready to celebrate the holiday season with their loved ones – as we are used to doing. This new research from GWI shows how eager people are to spend and shop around Christmas time. Fueled by concerns over stockouts, more and more people are organizing earlier to make sure they have the Christmas they are looking for. All of this means that retailers have to work a little harder to meet the growing demand for certain products and make sure they don’t lose out, ”comments Katie Gilsenan, Trends Manager at GWI.

“Christmas has always been the most important time for retailers,” says Wayne Snyder, vice president of retail at Blue Yonder. “Over the past few years, however, we’ve found that spending started happening much earlier, with consumers looking to make the most of seasonal sales on days such as Black Friday, Cyber ​​Monday and on Singles Day. Now we are seeing a shift from buying “things” to buying “experiences” – all of these changes have a serious impact on the long-term health of supply chain functionality and survival. retail.

“To get the most out of this season, retailers need to prioritize planning and managing inventory. This is especially important this year, following recent shortages, an influx of panic buying and persistent delays due to a lack of truck drivers. Retailers who fail to move forward and plan accordingly will miss out on the opportunity offered by the holiday season. “