WSU Study Finds Holiday Shopping Likely To Be More Online And Local

Nov 26, 2020

A WSU holiday shopping survey finds people are buying gifts earlier, less likely to wait for Black Friday.
Credit Courtesy of WSU Carson College of Business

Covid is making Christmas shopping a different experience this year. It’s not only trending toward more online, but also more local, buying.

Every year for the last four, Washington State University marketing professor Joan Giese [geese] has conducted a survey of Northwest shoppers, including people in the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene area. 

This year, she says, recently-imposed restrictions on travel and crowds in Washington have given the holiday season a different vibe.

“Gift giving, and that means shopping, is a way to celebrate from a distance and shopping does bring some normalcy to a very not-normal time for us," she said.

As a result, Giese says more people indicated they will do more online shopping, but not necessarily with the big box, national retail chains.

“There’s been this tremendous connection, I think, with local businesses. They have tried to create more local opportunities for shoppers to shop locally to keep local businesses in business," she said.

Giese says, while more people plan to buy online, holiday season traditions will continue in many households.

“People still want to shop in-store. They have found that it’s a source of inspiration, for one thing," she said.

But, she says, in this Covid era, they are somewhat picky.

“They definitely look for those safety protocols. Our results indicate that shoppers feel safer if stores are enforcing a mask wearing," she said.

One other change: Giese says people are becoming less interested in big traditional shopping days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. She says they’re shopping earlier in the fall and finding they can get better deals than if they wait for the iconic days.

Giese says the trends have been moving toward more online shopping, especially this year for safety reasons. But, she says, fewer people also indicated their desire to shop on Cyber Monday.

“There’s somewhat of a decrease in the interest in these iconic shopping days. I think some of that is shoppers start much earlier and some of these deals that they can get, they can get much earlier than waiting until the typical and more traditional Black Friday.”