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Achats de vacances, urlaubseinkauf, holiday shopping. No matter where they live, holiday consumers do it every year — and at this point, some have already started. Ahead of this holiday season, we surveyed 2,500 holiday shoppers in the US, UK, France, and Germany and analyzed shopping data from last year’s holiday season from across our network of 6,200 brand and retailer websites to see what shoppers across the world have in common. Here are the trends that we found: 

Online shopping is preferred, but in-store isn’t out

Holiday consumers around the world are overwhelmingly shopping online – 63% of global shoppers said that is where they will complete the majority of their holiday purchases. German shoppers are the most likely to do so (69% prefer online), while the French are the most likely to head to a brick-and-mortar location (38% prefer in-store).

But despite headlines in the media claiming shopping malls will be barren wastelands before we know it (if they aren’t already), the traditional shopping mall seems to still be an integral part of the holiday shopping experience. An overwhelming majority (82%) of global respondents plan to do at least a small portion of their holiday purchases at the mall, with UK shoppers being most likely to complete all of their purchases at one (18%). The US by far had the highest amount of respondents say they will avoid malls entirely this holiday season (17%), with the next closest being Germany (8%). 

US and UK consumers start their holiday shopping earliest

UK holiday shoppers are the most prepared. By the time our survey was released in July, 10% of UK shoppers had already started their holiday shopping. Almost a third (29%) participate in Amazon Prime Day and competing “Black Friday in July” sales. US shoppers are right behind them, with almost half (48%) of American respondents planning to start their holiday purchasing before Black Friday. In the US, order volume across our network starts to steadily decline after Green Monday leading up to Christmas, while order volume doesn’t start to decline until December 19th in Europe. German consumers are most likely to wait until early-mid December to begin their shopping (28%). And French shoppers seem to be the biggest procrastinators, as 10% said they wait until right before Christmas to kick off their holiday purchasing. 

Black Friday is the most popular shopping day in Europe

While Black Friday isn’t the start of the holiday shopping season, the majority of European shoppers make the bulk of their holiday purchases that day. Across our network, last year’s Black Friday orders more than quadrupled orders on a typical day in Europe with a 427% increase in order volume. While order volume did increase by 317% in the U.S. on Black Friday, Cyber Monday was not far behind, with a 314% order increase.

Shoppers are very active outside of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday rush as well. Last year, December 4th was the highest order day in Europe, outside of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and in the US, it was December 10th (Green Monday). Surprisingly, the plan-ahead UK shoppers tied with the last-minute French shoppers for the most likely to participate in Panic Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas. On December 26th, which is Boxing Day in Europe, our network saw a 39% increase in page views in the US and 54% in Europe. 

Convenience tops shoppers’ wishlists

Lengthy shipping times and slow order fulfillment are by far the biggest pain points for online holiday shoppers across the globe. UK shoppers seem to be the most annoyed by slow websites and cumbersome checkout processes (54%), while only 17% of German shoppers had the same complaint. When it comes to brick-and-mortar shopping, crowded stores are the biggest complaint, which is likely why so many shoppers are opting to make their purchases online.

Shoppers prefer to go big or go local

Likely due to convenience and fast shipping, Amazon is the most common place that shoppers plan to purchase their holiday gifts this year, beating out traditional retailers like Debenhams and Nordstrom and major brands like H&M and Adidas. US respondents are most likely to shop at traditional mass merchants other than Amazon, which may speak to more intense competition between Amazon and other US retailers. Surprisingly, consumers from all four regions except the UK are more likely to shop at small, locally-owned businesses rather than with direct-to-consumer brands. 

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There were a few more stand-out statistics that we found: German shoppers are the most festive, as had the most respondents (28%) say that entertaining in-store holiday experiences and services is a way brands can improve the holiday shopping experience. Interestingly enough, German shoppers are also most likely to avoid sales days altogether (34%). US (49%) and UK (48%) shoppers are most likely to return the gift you bought them for another option. French shoppers must be used to great customer service, as they were the country with the least respondents (16%) to consider pushy/aggressive salespeople as a holiday pain point. 

But overall, holiday shoppers all over the world are pretty similar. Whether it be in-store or online, consumers want their holiday shopping experience to be a convenient one. To get more in-depth with our data, download our holiday ebook.

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