The Ultimate Guide to Consumer Shopping Habits During the Holidays

The holidays are a huge opportunity for retailers and manufacturers — if you know your customer. Consumer shopping habits change during the holiday season. And that’s a good thing!

Did you know that:

  • 46% of shoppers bought from a new store during the 2017 holiday season?
  • Canadian consumers plan to spend an average of $1,563 (up 3.7%) this year?
  • The majority of Canadian consumers prefer brick-and-mortar retail to e-commerce?

Here are more holiday retail trends you’ll want to take into account this season.

  1. Millennial parents are expected to spend the most.

Millennial moms are among the top spenders, according to PwC Canada. They spent an average of $2,264 last year. Millennial parents spent an average of $2,026.

Millennial dads are planning to spend more this year, as are Gen Z consumers.


  1. Gift cards are shrinking in popularity.

PwC also found that millennial consumers prefer physical presents to gift cards.

Only 21% of millennials plan to buy gift cards for others and 30% would like to receive one as a gift. In comparison, 49% of millennials plan to buy a physical item and 36% would like to receive a physical item as a gift.

It’s similar in other generations, too.

Having the right promotion strategy paired with in-store products can help provide a better shopping experience.


  1. Men are spending more than women.

Women spent an average of $1,385 during the 2017 holiday season, while men spent $1,752.

Of those totals, men spent 48% of it on travel, 38% on gifts, and 14% on entertainment. Women spent 45% on travel, 44% on gifts, and 11% on entertainment.


  1. But women start shopping sooner.

According to Insights in Marketing, 15% of women begin holiday shopping before September, compared to 9% of men.

Women are also more likely to look for sales and discounts, but men are more likely to research coupons.

Men are more likely to finish shopping at the last-minute and 38% of men think they will still be shopping on December 24.

Both men and women say they like getting emails with recommendations based on previous purchases.


  1. Don’t forget the pets.

Pet owners will spend an average of $65 on their animals over the holidays.


  1. Canadians prefer in-store over e-commerce.

Nearly two-thirds of Canadian consumers prefer brick-and-mortar retail as their primary holiday shopping channel.

Nearly half of consumers visit stores to find inspiration and compare prices.


  1. But e-commerce shouldn’t be forgotten.

Despite this, 51% of millennials think of online shopping first and 50% of U.S. consumers prefer e-commerce.

Plus, millennials are more likely to browse Amazon and Google for gift inspiration and price comparison before going to the store.

According to a study from Google and Ipsos, nearly two-thirds of U.S. shoppers get inspiration from videos and more than 90% of those have discovered products and brands on YouTube.

A study from Forbes found that one in four shoppers use a smartphone while in-store to seek guidance and input.

While the in-store experience is important, so is desktop/laptop shopping, mobile shopping, and smart home technology (like the Google Home or Amazon’s Alexa).


  1. Delivery matters.

When shopping online, most Canadians prefer home delivery. 92% of holiday shoppers say receiving a delivery on-time is more important when purchasing a gift, according to dropoff.

Mature millennials (ages 32 to 36) are more likely to go for click-and-collect discounts, like picking up in store to receive a discount.

The majority of Canadians who pick up in store do so to avoid delivery charges (51%). 43% do it to avoid crowds, and 28% do it to make last-minute purchases.

More customers are turning to mobile payment methods, like Apple Pay and Android Pay. Many shop online on their smartphones, so be sure your website is mobile-friendly.


  1. Create a personalized shopping experience.

Half of consumers say they are interested in seeing personalized deals when shopping. Four in 10 holiday shoppers want retailers to remember personal details, like past sizes they’ve purchased.

They also want it to be easier to shop for others. For instance, according to Google, searches for “gift + _ year old” have seen a growth of over 100% while searches for “gifts for dad” have also grown during the same period.

Help shoppers by creating gift guides or personalized visual displays that give ideas.

With these consumer buying habits, you’ll be able to personalize the holiday shopping season and create a memorable customer experience.

Marketsupport Canada can help. Our team can make sure your in-store merchandising is ready, provide temporary staff, and more.

Contact us today to get started. Call 1-877-421-5081 or visit

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