7 things you need to know about this year's holiday shoppers

October 16, 2023

We’re counting down the days until the Black Friday-Cyber Monday (BFCM) holiday shopping weekend, and we’re not the only ones feeling the buzz. 

Last week, we shared survey data indicating that American shoppers are holding strong on holiday shopping, despite tightening their belts elsewhere.

This week, we’re going global with a survey conducted by Sapio Research of 12,000 consumers and 4,800+ businesses in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the U.K., and the U.S.

Here are 7 things you need to know about how consumers globally say they’ll shop this season.

1. AI drives product discovery for shoppers

69% said they think AI will make it easier to discover new brands and products, a belief shared even more widely among people earning higher salaries. 

74% think AI will also help them find deals and special offers, and 67% think it’ll make it easier to get recommendations based on previous purchases.

Our take: Much of the focus around AI for business has been based on how AI can help retailers do their jobs better and faster (it’s why we’re so bullish on Sidekick, our AI commerce assistant). But AI will improve commerce for everyone, including consumers who are looking for a guided commerce experience. One example is, Shopify’s AI-powered search tool for the Shop app.

"Shopify harnesses the power of AI to revolutionize entrepreneurship," said Miqdad Jaffer, Director of Product at Shopify. "By integrating AI across our platform, we are aiming to simplify business complexities to help our merchants scale their businesses."

2. Tech-enabled shopping = loyal customers + bigger spenders

39% of shoppers surveyed are more likely to buy from brands that embed technology into the shopping experience, and 1 in 5 say they’re more likely to be loyal to those brands.

Plus, shoppers who plan to spend more money are more likely to use technology while shopping. Those who plan to spend more than $1,200 USD this BFCM are at least twice as likely to use:

Our take: Shoppers reward retailers that create tech-driven shopping experiences. More than that, retailers who don’t offer new technologies to their customers will fall behind: 75% of retailers said they’re investing more in technology to help them capitalize on BFCM and the holiday shopping season.

3. Meaningful purchases trump big splurges

78% of consumers surveyed said they plan to make smaller purchases that give everyday satisfaction (up from 69% in 2022), and 63% said they’ll choose products that aid wellbeing.

Spending on experiences that bring people together and form connections is top of the wish list for many. Sixty-two percent said experiences will be a focus for their holiday spending. This number is especially high for people aged 25-34 (74%) and 35-44 (73%).

Our take: This may not be the season for pricey gift purchases, but there is tons of room for more affordable options that offer meaning to consumers. Any type of customization retailers can offer (things like custom engraving, embroidery, colors, or design on products) will make smaller purchases more appealing, and also provide the opportunity to upsell on those custom tweaks. Offering a variety of products across various price points is also a good way to attract shoppers who are looking for those smaller, meaningful purchases (like Shopify Collective, which allows retailers to cross-sell products from other businesses).

4. Bargain hunting is big this year

72% of consumers said they’re more likely to shop during BFCM to get more for their money. That’s extra important right now, given inflation and cost-of-living increases around the world. 

84% say they will compare prices to find the best deals and discounts.

Our take: Huge sales aren’t for everyone, and bargain pricing won’t fit with every business’s ethos or bottom line. But all eyes are on retailers during the BFCM weekend, so it’s essential to take advantage of shoppers who are ready to hit purchase. Product bundling and gift subscriptions are two ways to offer discounts while increasing overall sales. For those ready to dive into the bargain bin, discount code options abound.

Here’s a quick look at how one Shopify merchant is getting ready for BFCM:

5. Social shopping isn’t niche – it’s mainstream

Social media isn’t just a place to find products. Increasingly, it’s a place to buy them. Among consumers we surveyed, 33% said they would be likely to shop directly from Instagram. For Facebook, the number was 31%, and for Tiktok, the number was 28%.

Looking ahead, many businesses are preparing for this trend to grow. In fact, 30% think social media platforms will provide the highest sales volume for them by 2030, ahead of even their online stores (29%).

Our take: You’ve heard us say this for years: the future of retail is about being able to shop anywhere, and everywhere. Customers want an easy, intuitive shopping experience, and increasingly, they want it right in the middle of their scrolling session with social commerce.

6. Physical stores are a fave for product discovery

It may sound old-fashioned, but it’s true: 34% of consumers said browsing in a brick-and-mortar store is their favorite way to discover new products, trailing only two percentage points behind online stores (36%), which ranked #1. 

Retailers aren’t done with in-person sales, either: 81% of businesses surveyed said that physical stores were as or more important than last year (up from 74% in 2022).

Our take: Sometimes, shoppers just need to see and feel something before committing to a purchase. The lure of in-person shopping is even greater because it was so restricted during the pandemic. Now, physical retail is back—in a big way. Even without a physical storefront, retailers can take advantage of in-person shopping with a pop-up store, craft market, or partnership with local shops, using a point of sale solution like Shopify POS.

7. Shoppers want to see your deals before they start

Think shoppers wake up on Black Friday without a plan? Consider this: 71% said it’s important for a brand to communicate with them about their offers ahead of BFCM. And 30% said it’s very important. 

Our take: Retailers shouldn’t be shy about reaching out to their audience this season, leaning into channels like email marketing. Consumers are ready and waiting to hear about holiday deals, and advance notice can only help.

👀 Stay tuned for more shopping insights as we gear up for our merchants’ busiest time of the year. We’ll be cheering on every business on our platform, from kitchen-table headquarters to global enterprise level. 💚


Methodology: Online survey conducted by Sapio Research, on behalf of Shopify, among 12,000 consumers and 4,852 businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees across Australia, Canada, France, Germany, UK and US. The survey took place in September 2023.

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