Covid pandemic already changing America’s holiday shopping habits

NEW YORK — It may seem a bit early to start discussing the holiday season, but nothing has been normal so far in 2020. With that in mind, why would the holidays be any different? Indeed, life is still quite dissimilar to what it was just 12 months ago. With the holidays a few short months away, the coronavirus pandemic has already started to change America’s shopping habits.

According to a recent survey of 2,000 Americans, 47 percent have already started shopping for holiday gifts because they’re bored and stuck at home. Some respondents (15%) even started shopping back in August.

Less travel means more holiday shopping

This research, commissioned by Affirm, also asked Americans about their upcoming holiday travel plans. Only 17 percent plan on traveling this year, but within that group 21 percent believe they’re going to end up spending much more on travel costs in 2020. Four in 10 had been planning on traveling this year but had to cancel due to the ongoing pandemic.

While much of that is pretty depressing, there is one silver lining. Among those who had to cancel holiday travel plans, 75 percent are planning on using that extra cash on better or more gifts for their loved ones.

With in-person shopping more complicated than it’s ever been, nearly half (48%) plan on doing all of their holiday shopping online this year. Also, 27 percent are planning on buying more clothes and accessories and a quarter want to buy more electronics.

Few are waiting for sales

Interestingly, seven in 10 say they’re more likely to buy an item on sale now instead of waiting for Black Friday or Cyber Monday as they normally would have done in the past. Even if a particular item isn’t on sale, 38 percent say they would still buy it using a pay-over-time option.

Of course, budgets are tight this year and 48 percent worry about going overboard on holiday spending. Close to half the poll say they want to try new payment options like pay-over-time, but are wary of hidden fees. Over 40 percent tell researchers that the biggest hit on their holiday budget each year is unexpected fees.

Despite this, four in five Americans are planning and hoping to have all their holiday spending and associated debt paid off by Christmas morning.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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