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It’s beginning to look a lot like holiday campaign planning season

August 23, 2022 by Experian Marketing Services

While the weather outside is frightfully hot this summer, it’s never too soon to start thinking about the holidays – and consumers are more likely to start their holiday shopping early this year. To get you ready for the 2022 holiday shopping season, we looked back at consumer shopping trends from 2019-2021. What did we learn and what trends do we expect to see this year? Let’s look back.

A look back

Over the last three years, average consumer spending has increased. Record 2021 holiday sales came amidst a wave of COVID-19 cases, rising inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain problems. Despite these challenges, consumers continued to let it snow when it came to spending during the holiday season.

2022 has been a year with its own economic roadblocks – the war in Ukraine, rising gas prices, and recession concerns. Yet 2021 was a banner year for holiday sales despite its obstacles, and we predict similar trends in the 2022 holiday shopping season. What trends do we expect to see for the most wonderful time of the year?

2022 predictions

While consumer spending remains strong, changing economic conditions continue to shape shopper behavior. To develop our predictions for 2022 holiday shopper behavior, we focused on four key areas:

  • When consumers shop
  • Where consumers shop
  • What consumers purchase
  • Consumer media preferences

Now, let’s make our holiday campaign planning checklist and check it twice.

When consumers shop

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Those aren’t the only ways to know when the holiday season has begun. Shoppers tend to spread out their holiday purchases across multiple months and were more likely to start shopping earlier. To understand holiday retail sales trends from 2019-2021, we identified four shopper segments:

  1. Early Shoppers
  2. Traditional Shoppers
  3. Late Shoppers
  4. Random Shoppers

What differences did we see between our four shopper segments?

  • Early shoppers made almost half of their holiday purchases in October
  • Random shoppers spread out their holiday purchases evenly across multiple months
  • Late shoppers made almost half of their holiday purchases in December
  • Traditional shoppers made almost half of their holiday purchases in November

While December continues to dominate holiday sales, October has started to gain traction over the last three years, and November remains a core shopping month.

Holiday retail sales by month

Everybody knows a turkey and a mistletoe help to make the season bright but knowing when your consumers are most likely to shop will help deck your campaign planning halls. Jingle bell rock your way to holiday sales that shine bright with our tips to prepare for earlier shoppers:

  • Offer targeted promotions earlier in the shopping season
  • Target your ads based on the shopping habits of your customers throughout the season

Where consumers shop

There’s no place like home for the holidays but most consumers aren’t shopping from home. Despite the rise in online shopping, brick and mortar locations continue to dominate holiday sales. October is the most popular month to take a one-horse open sleigh to a store, and consumers gather around the fire to online shop in November and December.

Graph showing holiday sales by channel

With most shoppers preferring to shop in-store, and e-commerce popularity growing, it’s critical to think about bridging the gap between your online and offline presence for the consumer. Are you offering multiple paths to purchase with solutions such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store)?

Go down in history like Rudolph with our tips to prepare for more in-store shopping:

  • Focus on in-store shopping experience technology (self-checkout, VR, QR codes, scan to pay, etc.)
  • Offer multiple paths to purchase to connect your online and physical presence through methods such as BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In-Store), BORIS (Buy Online, Return In-Store), and ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline), etc.

What consumers purchase

When it comes to holiday gifts, for some, only a hippopotamus will do. Compared to pre-pandemic, shoppers are spending more at apparel stores and mass retailers. Spending at specialty retailers, warehouse clubs, and on office, electronic, and games is almost the same across holiday and non-holiday shopping months. Time for toys and time for cheer may be year-round, but are there any correlations between where consumers shop (online vs. in-store) and what they purchase? Our data found that shoppers who bought from mass retailers were more likely to shop online, while shopping for apparel and warehouse clubs was done at a physical store location.

Graph showing consumer purchasing patterns during the holidays

Put this insight to the test by thinking through how you can target your consumer based on where they shop in-store and online. You just might find that hippopotamus at a brick and mortar mass retailer location!

Consumer media preferences

Do you see what I see? While we are seeing a shift to digital media channel preference, consumers still engage with traditional media channels like direct mail and the traditional newspaper. Successfully connecting with your customers involves capturing their attention through the right channel. We found that our four shopping groups prefer a mix of traditional and digital media channels. What does your media channel mix look like?

Hark! The herald angels sing of ways to adapt to the change in holiday spend and media preferences:

  • Align your activation efforts to digital, but don’t forget about traditional channels
  • Expand your targeting and activation focus beyond in-store vs. online

View our full report

For a deeper dive into our predictions and actionable insights you can use to take your holiday campaign planning home for the holidays, download our 2022 holiday shopping report. Experian data can help you refine your content and creative strategy to achieve maximum ROI for each campaign across all your channels.