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Holiday Shoppers Hoping to Avoid Santa’s Empty Sack



Store shelves are low on pretty much everything these days, and a new Oracle Retail consumer research study shows that shoppers are worried that supply chain delays will wreak havoc on their holiday shopping. 


In response, 52% of Americans have already started holiday shopping or plan to shop earlier than usual. Of the respondents, 20% plan to order more gifts in case some are delayed or canceled, with that number jumping to 44% for Millennials. 


“As we see in the news, the supply chain challenges are a global reality. Regardless, consumers will still measure retailers on their ability to deliver on their wish lists this holiday season,” says Mike Webster, senior vice president, and general manager, Oracle Retail. 


“Accountability will be the name of the game,” adds Webster. “Retailers must have clear visibility into their inventory, a realistic timeline for the fulfillment, and a plan to communicate clearly throughout the order and delivery processes. Through transparency and execution, retailers can earn trust with their customers and build the potential for future loyalty.”


The survey polled 5,728 consumers in September asking consumers about their pandemic shopping habits and plans for holiday shopping. Here are the finding:


Supply chain woes

Gift givers are worried they will be left holding an empty box as products may not be available or will take too long to arrive:

  • 28% of respondents are anxious that the products they want will be more expensive due to the scarcity
  • 27% are worried desired products won’t be available
  • 17% are fretting that friends and family will be disappointed as they don’t get the gift they want
  • 16% are concerned that favorite holiday treats, like pumpkin spice lattes, won’t be available


In-stock or out of luck

Despite the challenges, being able to get their hands on the products they want will be a critical factor in how shoppers judge retailers this season:

  • 40% agree that out of stock items constitute a lousy shopping experience
  • 38% say they are attracted to brands/companies based on product availability
  • 22% won’t wait for a retailer to restock before they go somewhere else


Gift a gift card

When asked what gifts they plan to buy more of this year, gift cards emerged as the top contender:

  • 34% plan to buy more gift cards (60% of Boomers and 44% of women said that is the gift they would also most like to receive)


Getting real on returns

They may tell you they love the gift, but nearly half of Millennials are really planning to return it. The good news for retailers; 76% of people said they are likely to buy other things when they come into a store to make a return:

  • 41% of people plan to make some gift returns (67% for Millennials)
  • 24% plan to return half to all their gifts (48% for Millennials)
  • 60% of Gen Z* shoppers will return at least some gifts, while 90% of Boomers have no plans to return their gifts
  • Men (50%) are more likely than women (30%) to make at least some returns

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