'Tis the season to spend: Consumer pulse survey report | Holiday 2021

Consumer optimism signals a return to happier holidays.

Matt Kramer

Matt Kramer

National Sector Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG LLP

+1 614-241-4666

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

National Advisory Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG LLP

+1 617-988-1474

Julia Wilson

Julia Wilson

Managing Director, Deal Advisory, KPMG US

+1 404-222-3511

In September 2021, KPMG polled over 1,000 consumers across the United States to learn about household spending, expected purchases, shifts in spending habits, and travel for the upcoming holiday season. This year, we’re finding that consumer optimism is high with many shoppers reporting they are back to work, have money in their wallets, and are ready to spend on holiday purchases both in-store and online.


Household spending has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels

As household spending increasingly returns to pre-COVID-19 levels, respondents are excited to spend more on the holidays. A total of 49 percent of respondents believe that their household spending has (32 percent) or will in the next 6 months (17 percent) reach pre-COVID-19 spending levels. In our 2020 holiday survey, only 24 percent total believed this to be the case. As a result, respondents estimate a 5 percent increase in their holiday shopping budgets compared to last year. 

On average, respondents plan to purchase more online across all categories during the 2021 holiday season—60 percent intend to purchase online, which is 8 percent higher than last year. 


Black Friday is still the most important holiday shopping event

While online shopping is expected to reach record numbers this year, in-store shopping is also making a comeback. Thirty-two percent of consumers say they are definitely planning to shop in-store on Black Friday, making it the most important event of the holiday shopping season. 


There are concerns over stockouts

While consumer enthusiasm over the holiday shopping season abounds, survey respondents did acknowledge the potential impacts that supply chain disruption may have on their ability to get products in time. More than 50 percent of respondents are at least somewhat concerned about stockouts in stores and shipping delays. This will likely contribute to earlier shopping plans as 61 percent of respondents plan to start holiday shopping by October, up 10 percent from last year.

And, according to retailers, the earlier the better, as they have expressed even greater concerns about supply chain issues. In the recent KPMG survey report, “Merry & Bright: Retail executives are hopeful for the upcoming holiday season,” 82 percent of the retail executives surveyed said they are “somewhat” to “very concerned” about inventory shortages.


Read the survey report

The KPMG Consumer pulse survey series explores key, emerging themes around consumer behaviors, purchasing patterns and the economy. Each survey asks 1,000 U.S. consumers, representing all demographics, timely questions about upcoming purchases and economic conditions. We conduct the surveys to help our clients understand consumers, uncover the signals of permanent change and create basis for transforming their businesses to meet customers where they are.

Fact sheet | KPMG Consumer pulse survey | Holiday 2021
Select insights from the survey results