Survey finds 40% of consumers are planning to curb holiday spending compared to last season, with women pulling back at higher rates than men; 35% of shoppers will start shopping in October or earlier this year, especially younger shoppers: Bain & Co.

Sample article from our Consumer Wellness

NEW YORK , October 19, 2023 (press release) –

Amid ongoing economic uncertainty, consumers plan to scale back on holiday spending. Bain & Company’s new global consumer survey found 40% of consumers are planning to curb holiday spending this year, compared to last season. And after a summer of robust spending, women are pulling back at higher rates than men. Across geographies, time with loved ones came out as the top priority—consumers say they are most looking forward to celebratory experiences over other activities, including gift giving or receiving, this year. Bain explores this and other insights on holiday shopping in the second volume of its 2023 Retail Holiday Newsletter series.

Nearly 70% of consumers surveyed globally are worried about the cost of living, but Bain found variance across geographies and demographics. French consumers are most concerned, while German consumers appear to be least concerned.

Asked when they are planning to start shopping, consumers say managing financial constraints is top-of-mind. This is especially true for Gen X women, who are scaling back the most. Globally, 35% of shoppers will start shopping in October, or earlier, this year. This trend is especially pronounced for younger shoppers.

In the US, Black Friday remains a major event for shoppers across income brackets, with half of consumers planning to shop Black Friday sales. Bain’s research shows Black Friday has an even bigger appeal for high-income shoppers; 55% of high-income shoppers say they are planning to shop on Black Friday versus 48% of low-income shoppers.

When deciding where to shop, free shipping is important for online shoppers across demographics, and US women ranked free shipping as their number one criteria. Gen Z consumers say they are most likely to turn to social media and influencers for suggestions, Millennials and Gen X say they are likely to turn to recommendations from friends or search engines, and Boomers say they are not easily influenced as they “always tend to shop at the same retailers.”

“There is no average customer these days,” said Sarah Irizarry, associate partner in Bain & Company’s Retail practice. “Leading retailers are constantly adapting to serve the changing needs of their target customers through strategic and tactical actions, from real-time feedback mechanisms to personalization. Retailers that shine brightest this holiday season will ensure their customers feel invited and welcome, and their frontline employees feel happy and rewarded for their efforts.”

Editor's Note: For more information or interview requests please contact Katie Ware at katie.ware@bain.com or +1 646 562 8107.

About Bain & Company  

Bain & Company is a global consultancy that helps the world’s most ambitious change makers define the future.  

Across 65 cities in 40 countries, we work alongside our clients as one team with a shared ambition to achieve extraordinary results, outperform the competition, and redefine industries. We complement our tailored, integrated expertise with a vibrant ecosystem of digital innovators to deliver better, faster, and more enduring outcomes. Our 10-year commitment to invest more than $1 billion in pro bono services brings our talent, expertise, and insight to organizations tackling today’s urgent challenges in education, racial equity, social justice, economic development, and the environment. We earned a platinum rating from EcoVadis, the leading platform for environmental, social, and ethical performance ratings for global supply chains, putting us in the top 1% of all companies. Since our founding in 1973, we have measured our success by the success of our clients, and we proudly maintain the highest level of client advocacy in the industry.

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