Member Exclusive   //   November 25, 2022

Modern Retail x Attest Research: Economic anxiety may put a damper on holiday shopping

This story is part of an editorial research partnership with Attest.

Holiday shopping is going to be a different beast this year.

The year is ending with anxiety from different sources. Prices are higher than they were a year ago, a recession may be on the horizon and retailers have miscalculated demand throughout the year. As a result, both shoppers and brands are feeling a great deal of holiday anxieties.

This uncertainty was punctuated throughout a recent survey by Modern Retail and consumer research platform Attest. We asked 1,000 U.S. consumers about their plans for holiday shopping, and they expressed hesitancy with spending and fears over rising prices.

Retailers have been trying to get ahead of consumers’ trepidations with holiday shopping by implementing increased discounting and even introducing new large-scale sales events. Amazon, for example, introduced a second Prime Day in October and Walmart and Target quickly followed suit with similar sales.

But shoppers have a mixed view of these sales. When asked about their reactions to the onslaught of promotional retailer events, nearly a quarter (23%) said they thought there are either a bit too many or too many sales events this year. Meanwhile, 31% of respondents said they were undecided about these new sales holidays.

The results point to a growing uncertainty among shoppers about the state of holiday shopping. This was highlighted even more when they were asked how much they planned on spending this year on gifts.

Compared to their spending last year, nearly a third (31%) said they planned on spending at least a bit less on gifts this year compared to last year. Meanwhile, 30% said they planned on spending the same amount this year as they did last year.

What’s driving all of this is increased anxiety. Last year, there were supply chain hiccups leading to shipping delays. This year, some of those problems still exist — but the real issues are economic.

According to this survey, more than half of respondents are worried about increased prices. And, even with supply chain issues allaying, 19% said they were worried about products being unavailable and 14% feared experiencing delivery problems.

With the arrival of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we’ll begin to get a sense for whether this translates into sales drops. But recent earnings from retailers like Target certainly give a sense for a less-than-stellar holiday season this year, sales-wise.