While the majority of shoppers are looking forward to the holiday season, they are divided on whether they'd rather spend money on gifts or plan gatherings with loved ones, according to the 2019 Holiday Purchase Intention Survey from The NPD Group. Of the nearly 3,500 respondents, half said shopping put them in the holiday spirit, but nearly half of consumers would rather plan a gathering with loved ones than exchange gifts, an uptick from last year, per NPD's findings.
Shoppers said they plan to spend about $740 during the 2019 holiday season, a 7% increase from last year. Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they have a positive outlook on their finances, but not as many said the same about the economy, according to the survey.
More than 75% of consumers plan to shop online this holiday season, but more than half buy holiday goods in-store, the survey found. Meanwhile, 25% of consumers expect to shop on their smartphones during this year's holiday shopping season, up from 19% two years ago, per the survey.
The latest research from The NPD Group is a sign that perhaps consumers are spending a bit more than previously thought. Other holiday research indicated that shoppers plan to spend at least $500 this year, which falls in line with these findings.
As previous report from PwC has also indicated, consumers plan on shopping online and in-store during the holidays, which means retailers' omnichannel strategies must reach shoppers wherever they are. An AdColony report also points to smartphones as the most popular device for online shopping. Per NPD's survey results, one in six shoppers researching their goods online will use social media, and shoppers will fulfill 20% of holiday purchases through buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) services.
NPD's survey also adds to an understanding of how the overall economy impacts shopper behavior. Research from consulting firm AlixPartners found that consumers are watching how tariffs will influence the price of goods this holiday season, but NPD noted that consumers' personal financial situation swayed their purchasing decisions more than the overall economy. Perhaps consumer debt would be a better indicator than overall national or global economic health.
"There is more of a divide in consumer sentiment heading into this holiday season than we have seen in years," Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser at The NPD Group, said in a statement. "There are fewer consumers planning on doing what they did last year, which means retail needs to be prepared to think differently as well."