Insight

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

Optimistic consumers plan for happier holidays.

Matt Kramer

Matt Kramer

National Sector Leader, Consumer & Retail, KPMG LLP

+1 614-241-4666

Scott Rankin

Scott Rankin

Principal and the US Strategy Service Line Leader, KPMG LLP

+1 617-988-1474

Julia Wilson

Julia Wilson

ESG Strategy Leader, 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 belived this. As a result, respondents estimate a 5 percent increase in their holiday shopping budgets compared to last year. 

 

Spending has returned to pre-COVID-19 levels

 

49% percent of 2021 survey respondents report that their household spending is already back or will be back to pre-COVID-19 levels within 6 months.

Online spending is expected to increase

 

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.


*Totals may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

 

Black Friday 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 planing 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 and 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.

 

Start holiday shopping by October up 10%

 

61% of 2021 survey respondents plan to start holiday shopping by October.

Consumers concerned over stockouts

 

54% of respondents are at least somewhat concerned about stockouts.

Black Friday still most important shopping event

 

32% of 2021 respondents say they will definitely go.

*Totals may not sum to 100% due to rounding.

 

Read the survey reports

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.

Notes and sources

Notes: (a) KPMG conducted four surveys of 1,000 consumers across the United States and in all instances, they were asked the question, “When COVID-19 is under control, how long do you think it will take for your spending to return to pre-COVID levels?”

(b) KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the question, “For the following categories, what percent of your holiday shopping was done online last year (e.g., 2020)?” and "For the following categories, what percent of your holiday shopping purchases do you plan to do online this year (e.g., 2021)?”. Weighted average total is weighted by average consumer spend by category.

(c, d) KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the questions, “Please rate the responses on concerns about stockouts and shipping delays: very concerned, somewhat concerned, neutral, somewhat not concerned and not concerned at all.”

(e) KPMG conducted a survey of 1,000 consumers across the United States and they were asked the questions, “During your holiday shopping, what sales events are most important to you?” and “Do you plan on going into stores for Black Friday sales?”; Other primarily include none, Christmas shopping, any sale, senior citizen days, etc.

Sources: (1)  KPMG Consumer Pulse Survey, fielded Sep 15, 2020 –Sep 19, 2020; (2) KPMG Consumer Pulse Survey, fielded Sep 8,2021–Sep 21, 2021