Financial and public health concerns are inhibiting holiday shoppers this year, who are expected to spend $1,387 per household, down 7% year over year, according to the annual survey from Deloitte researchers. "Thirty-eight percent plan to spend less this holiday season, a level not seen since the financial crisis," they found.
Economic instability is leading those shoppers to spend less, according to the report, which includes findings from Deloitte's September consumer report. As of mid-September, 34% are worried about paying bills, up from 26% in August, Deloitte said.
Meanwhile, 60% of U.S. consumers are concerned about their families' health, with more than half anxious about going to stores. That's pushing demand for curbside pickup, which more than doubled from last year, and home delivery, which rose to 73% from 62%, Deloitte said.
A lot of retailers are working hard to get their customers shopping early this year, in order to smooth their supply chains, get the right inventory and allow time for delivering all the online packages. But their customers may not play along, according to Deloitte's report.
Plenty of consumers plan to shop before Thanksgiving, but not any more than last year, Deloitte found. In fact, Deloitte researchers led by Rod Sides expect the average shopping window to be a week and a half shorter this year, with shoppers starting about the same time.
Consumers appear to be reticent in a variety of ways. A whopping 85% say they won't be buying themselves anything this year, for example. About half are anxious about shopping in stores due to COVID-19, and half say they'll be comfortable again once there's a vaccine. To get their holiday tasks done, 65% will shop online to avoid crowds, 48% will avoid mall stores and 69% prefer to go to stores closer to home.
In a rare vulnerability for off-price stores, which even in the age of e-commerce have held on to their brick-and-mortar operations as an advantage, consumers say they'll avoid retail formats that encourage in-store browsing.
One holiday retail tradition seems safe: discounts. Financial worries as described by Deloitte, similar to those found by GlobalData in a report on the U.S. employment picture, may be what are shaping consumers' priorities, with 61% prioritizing deals and consumers "ranking price, product, and convenience over safety precautions."