Study Discusses Primary Drivers of Holiday Consumption in Canada

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A new study by HRC Retail Advisory finds that sales and coupons are most influential in driving consumers to shop this holiday season, with apparel being most popular among those in the 10-17 year ‘Generation Z’ age range. The study surveyed 3,100 participants in Canada and the United States to determine attitudes, behaviours and influences driving holiday gifts and shopping.

The study, conducted in October of this year, targeted four distinct demographics: Millennials with no children, Millennial parents of children under 18, ‘Generation X’ and Baby Boomer parents of children under 18, and children ages 10-17 (‘Generation Z’). Overall, the survey found that gift cards remain an extremely popular item, while apparel will surprisingly top many gift lists for both family and friends this year. Other significant findings of the survey include the following:

Sales and Coupons Drive Store Traffic: Consumers are still price sensitive and despite more modern approaches, 89% of respondents said that deep discounts (including coupons) are the key determinant of what stores they will visit for holiday shopping this year. Consumers are also motivated by visuals, with 87% of consumers saying that they are likely to enter a store based on store window displays. Additionally, 79% of consumers surveyed said they would be influenced on what stores to visit based on a retailer’s website.

Youth are Choosing Apparel Over Games for Holiday 2016: The study found that when children were asked what they’d want most if given $500 in gifts, apparel was tops, surpassing even games. Respondents said that they plan to allocate more than 30% of their budget on apparel and footwear purchases for family and friends this year. Millennial and Generation-X parents said that they are planning to spend 40% of an assumed $500 holiday budget for their children on clothing and shoes, versus a small 16% on gaming consoles and games.

Increased Popularity of Gift Cards: A whopping 83% of Millennial parents plan to include gift cards in their holiday purchases, and 32% of respondents who intend to buy gift cards indicated that gift cards will comprise at least half of their holiday budget, according to the HRC Advisory study. As well, 62% of all study respondents with a preference preferred to receive a gift card rather than an actual gift. This was consistent across all generations studied, which indicates that people would like to select their own gifts, rather than receive a gift that may be wrong for them.

Gift Card Giving Goes Up with Income: The higher one’s income, the more likely one will purchase gift cards. The study found that 83% of Millennial parents earning between $50,000 and $75,000 plan to include gift cards this year, while a remarkable 96% of Millennials that have children and earn over $150,000 plan to include gift cards in their holiday shopping. Higher earners won’t necessarily spend a greater percentage of their holiday budget on gift cards, however, as overall purchases are generally higher among those who are more affluent. 

“There are limited doorbusters to drive consumers to the store this holiday season,” said Farla Efros, President of HRC Retail Advisory. “As we’ve seen over the weekend, gift cards and free shipping allow this new consumer to shop however and wherever they want. Importantly, our survey found several key attitudes and behaviours for holiday shopping that were consistent throughout the generations. Recognizing and responding to these trends, while catering to a younger group of shoppers who are gaining more and more influence within their household will be essential to a retailer’s success this holiday season and a necessary step for them to remain competitive going forward.”



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