Conscience will impact holiday shopping: study

Consumers are buying more locally and they're considering a retailer's reputation when making purchases.

The holiday shopping season is approaching, and while Canadians are still guided by value in deciding where to make their purchases, their conscience and impatience can have just as much of an impact.

The Accenture Canada Holiday Shopping Survey, now in its fifth year, polled 1,500 consumers across Toronto, Montreal and Calgary, asking them about their anticipated shopping habits and purchase behaviour for their holiday shopping this year.

The study found that 77% of Canadian consumers believe a retailer’s reputation is important to their purchase decisions, with 27% describing it as “extremely important.”

“Building both trust and respect are the major themes this holiday shopping season,” said Kelly Askew, managing director of Accenture’s retail strategy practice in Canada. “Retailers need to be efficient, innovative and responsible in how they do business in order to gain consumers’ trust. Brands must also respect their customers’ time, and help them make purchases more easily if they don’t want customers to leave and shop elsewhere.”

Just over half of the respondents said the biggest frustration that prevents them from shopping in-store was waiting in long lines. The average amount of time they were willing to wait in line before abandoning their purchase was six minutes, but 22% said they would wait as long as necessary if they found a good deal. Additionally, 41% of respondents said they would leave a store and buy online instead if they saw long lines at check-out.

For online shopping, the biggest frustration that prevented shoppers from making more purchases was not being able to handle the product before they buy it (according to 55% of respondents), followed by shipping issues (cited by 44% of respondents).

While the majority of shoppers still plan to do their holiday shopping in-store, online shopping continues to increase in popularity. The number of respondents who said they plan to do the majority of holiday shopping online increased from 33% in last year’s survey to 38% this year, while the number of those who say they prefer in-store shopping fell from 62% to 53%.

What’s also becoming more popular is using multiple channels to find the best deal. The number of people who plan to use their mobile device to compare prices in-store rose to 41% from 34% last year. Also, 74% said they plan to “showroom” their purchases, which means going to a store to handle and review a product in-person before buying it online where they can find the best deal.

In addition, 39% of shoppers plan to spend more on their holiday purchases than they did last year, with the average Canadian planning to spend $873, up from $744 last year. That increase may be due to a better economic outlook for many Canadians, with 31% saying they feel optimistic about their financial situation, compared with 26% who said the same in last year’s survey.

Purchasing local brands is important to Canadians, with 45% saying they plan to buy from local brands, while 37% said they plan to buy from U.S. brands and 19% said they plan to buy from international brands. Buying Canadian is more important to older consumers, though: 54% of consumers over 60 said they would buy the majority of their purchases from Canadians brands, compared to 9% of 18- to 24-year-olds who said the same.

Major “shopping occasions” are becoming more important to Canadians, with 70% of respondents saying they plan to shop on Black Friday (compared to 60% last year) and 70% saying they plan to shop on Boxing Day (compared to 64% last year).

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