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Consumer Habits: What Retailers Need to Know for the Holidays

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Fall is finally here! As the weather cools down and retailers ramp up for the holidays, let us be the Goose – no, not the Christmas kind – to your Maverick with our latest Changes in Consumer Habits report.

The 2021 holiday season is bound to be a tug and war between shifts back to pre-pandemic consumer habits and mounting supply chain and labor challenges. In our 4th edition of the large scale North-American survey, Changes in Consumer Habits: What the 'New Normal' Means for Retail, we reveal key trends to help retailers alleviate some of the mounting external pressures and help businesses better understand how they can keep customers coming back.

As always, you can download the full report for free here, or continue reading for an overview of the key findings.

Customers expect multi-channel, digitally enabled experiences

Retailers saw a surge in online purchasing during lockdowns and stay-at-home-orders, but this trend is staying strong almost two years later. Just over half of fall respondents are still reporting increased online spending and, impressively, most brands have been successful at delivering a positive digital experience.

95% of those surveyed said they have been satisfied with most of their online transactions. This means not only do you still need to offer a digital alternative to physical locations in order to capture this revenue, but expectations are high for delivering a quality experience.

A strong online presence also plays an important role in driving in-store business. 86% of recent respondents reported conducting online research prior to making an in-store purchase. However, the purpose of this research has shifted. In the spring of 2021 consumers were primarily conducting online research to minimize the need to visit multiple stores. Now, continuing the trend towards pre-pandemic priorities, 80% of those surveyed say it is to find the best price before making an in-store purchase.

Consumers continue to be more comfortable returning to businesses in-person

Retailers will be happy to hear the frequency with which consumers visit in-person continues to rise with 38% of fall respondents reporting visiting stores 2-3 times a week – up from 26% this past spring. One reason for this could be reduced concerns around COVID-19 measures. Only 21% of consumers reported crowd management being an important factor in deciding whether to visit a physical location compared to 36% at the beginning of the year.

Similarly, the improvements consumers want to see from retailers have shifted as well. In the spring of 2021, the top two improvements requested by survey respondents were ensuring customers wear masks and improved cleanliness. Now, the top two improvements they want to see are cheaper delivery fees and easier online ordering.

However, while improved cleanliness may no longer be a top request, there has been little fluctuation in the importance of cleanliness over the past two years. 64% of recent respondents indicated the cleanliness of a store is an important factor when deciding whether to visit a physical retailer. This means that, while most businesses have risen to meet the new cleanliness expectations, it is still important to maintain these new standards.

Businesses are getting better at soliciting feedback, but there’s still work to be done

If you read our Spring 2021 report, you’ll know it flagged that not enough businesses were asking for customer feedback and it’s encouraging to see these numbers rising. In the spring, 42% of consumers who completed an in-store purchase and 43% of consumers who completed an online purchase reported being asked for feedback. These are now up to 56% for in-store and 58% for online.

While this increase is positive, these numbers show a lot is still being left on the table - and it matters! When asked what influences their decision to shop with a brand, positive reviews ranked number one with 51% of consumers saying they were very important.

This means not only is soliciting feedback as important as ever when looking to attract customers but also ensuring you receive it. 63% of recent respondents said the main reason they don’t provide feedback is that it takes too long.

Pro Tip: Software like IntouchSurvey™ feature built-in logic that dynamically removes subsequent questions made irrelevant by data collected during the completion of a survey as well as survey health tools that estimate survey completion time and completion rate so you can collect the data that matters most.

Intouch Insight remains committed to helping retailers stay ahead of changing trends in consumer priorities. For more data and insights from our latest study, you can download the full report here. Or, if you’re looking to stay up to date on customer experience news while you wait for the Spring 2022 report, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter and have the latest articles delivered directly to your inbox!


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