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Say goodbye to the over-commercialized Christmas: pandemic-weary customers need a significant trip

During this Christmas season, buyers are not planning any glamorous and gift-oriented celebrations. Instead, many are preparing for smaller gatherings, limiting their spending, and directing more of their dollars to retailers who share similar values ​​during the coronavirus pandemic. This is the result of a new survey by Accenture.

The majority of respondents – 61% – said they would minimize in-store shopping to reduce health risks for key workers. This was the result of the consulting firm's survey of more than 1,500 US consumers in August. The same number said they were more likely to buy from companies that show they are committed to health, safety and hygiene.

More than 40% said they will not shop at retailers who have laid off employees or cut employee benefits due to the pandemic.

And more than three-quarters of consumers said retailers should close on Thanksgiving so workers can take a break and spend time with their families.

Jill Standish, who leads Accenture's retail practice, said the global health crisis has inspired Americans to reflect differently on the season. People have had to rearrange their homes while working at the kitchen table or helping their children with remote work. You've juggled crying babies and barking dogs during the Zoom conference calls. And they find that this year they may not be able to enjoy the same holiday traditions or hang out with loved ones who live far away.

She said all of this has increased people's empathy for their neighbors, co-workers, and even strangers who stock shelves or check them out at the store.

"We have all been locked up and colliding with our families, school, home and work," she said. "Vacation is just another extension of that. And yet it has made us all a little more tolerant, a little more humane."

More than 200,000 Americans have died from Covid-19. Many more fell ill or were hospitalized. That has dampened some Americans' interest in shopping. On average, respondents said they'd spent $ 540 this year. This is a decrease of nearly $ 100 from the expected average spend of $ 637 last year.

Almost 40% of respondents said they don't look forward to the holiday season because of Covid-19, and 35% said they don't look forward to the holiday season for other reasons, e.g. B. to mourn a loved one or to be separated from family friends.

Almost one in four respondents said they were cutting vacation spending as it was generally a difficult year, and 22% said Covid-19 affected their financial security, making them more cautious about spending.

With the holiday coming up, retailers have also announced how their plans are different. Big box retailers including Walmart, Target and Best Buy have announced they will remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, and many have pledged to expand Christmas sales instead of focusing them on a 24-hour window on Black Friday that is crowded Business encouraged.

In the early months of the pandemic, retailers are trumpeting their support for workers. Big grocers like Kroger and Walmart gave spot bonuses or temporary pay increases. Walmart ran television commercials describing hourly workers as heroes. The goal accelerated the increase to a minimum wage of $ 15 an hour.

During the protests following the assassination of George Floyd, many companies pledged to increase the diversity of their workforce, donate to nonprofits that focus on racial justice, and to move more minority company merchandise on their shelves.

If Americans go to the mall or retailer websites this Christmas season, Standish says they'll keep paying attention. You will read and hear company practices on social media or the news. You will find out if employees appear anxious or if they do not have enough protective equipment.

"It's not just about the product," she said. "It's about who is behind the product and what the personality of this brand is and what I believe in."

For example, she said, roughly 4 in 10 respondents said they plan to shop at minority-owned companies, and the same number said they'll shop at retailers who support the Black Lives Matter movement.

According to Standish, it's even easier for consumers to respond to their values ​​when they shop for gifts online. Around 75% said they did at least some holiday shopping online, and 43% said they only shop online during this holiday season.

"It's obvious who is really just and who is doing right," she said. "When consumers have a choice and shop online and the product is available at other retailers, they can switch. You can compare. You can shop elsewhere. So transparency is like no other and authenticity is like none other on this vacation. "

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