• Consumer Research
  • Understanding Consumers

Top Holiday Shopping Trends of 2021: What Our Data Reveals

Team InMobi
5 min read
Posted on October 15, 2021

What will be the biggest holiday shopping trends this year? How will consumers shop during the 2021 holiday season and what will they be looking for? And how will holiday sales compare to the 2020 holiday shopping season or even the 2019 holiday shopping experience?  

To find out the answer to these questions and more fully uncover the truth on consumer shopping expectations this year, we turned to InMobi Pulse, InMobi’s mobile market research solution. In September, we polled close to 1,000 Americans to see how they were beginning to think about and plan for the upcoming holiday shopping season. 

Here’s what we uncovered. 

Top Takeaways: 

  • 40% of all Americans – and half of those between 18 and 24 years old – plan to use a mobile device to make a purchase this year. 
  • A third of U.S. adults will make a holiday purchase in person in 2021 – for those who are 55 and older, that share rises to 54%. 
  • Over one in four Americans say they will be purchasing home goods this holiday season. 

How Will Consumers Plan to Shop This Holiday Season? 

According to our research, m-commerce is expected to be big this year. Overall, 40% said they would make a holiday gift purchase using a mobile device, while just 33% said they would shop in person. In addition, 50% of Gen Zers (18 to 24 years old) and 55% of those between 35 to 44 years old said they would turn to mobile to shop this year. 

Interestingly, 41% overall said they used mobile devices to shop last year. Even with far fewer COVID-related restrictions in place today as compared to a year ago, m-commerce will be just as big (if not bigger!) this year as compared to last year. 

Why is m-commerce set to be so popular this year? In large part, it’s because retailers have invested in their mobile-first options, rolling out BOPIS (buy online pick up in store) and other contactless options. Even though consumers can shop online and in store this year, the convenience offered by mobile and online shopping more broadly is picking up steam among consumers. 

Of course, retailers are driving some of this growth on their own. Many leading companies, including Walmart, Target and Best Buy, have already announced that their stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day, meaning that consumers will have to turn to digital channels if they want to start shopping then. Additionally, many retailers plan to make the Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping days even more focused on online sales than before by offering up more unique online- and mobile-first deals to consumers. 

What Will Americans Buy for Holiday Gifts In 2021? 

What specifically will Americans be shopping for this year? Top answers include home goods (26%), home electronics (21%), toys (20%), apparel (20%) and beauty products (18%). 

  • For home electronics, consumers say they will be shopping with Amazon (46%), Walmart (35%), Best Buy (27%) and Target (25%). Why? , The primary drivers for shopping with these retailers are price, convenience and better product selection. 

  • For apparel, many consumers opt to shop at name brand or specialty stores (27%) with other popular apparel shopping destinations including TJ Maxx (28%) and Macy’s (22%). Consumers say they turn to these shopping options, whether in store or online, primarily because they offer a better assortment of products to select from (32%). Women cite selection as the determining factor for choosing to shop with a retailer.  
  • Walmart is by far the top shopping destination for toys. Over half of shoppers planning to buy toys say they will purchase them at Walmart this year. The share jumps to 63% for female shoppers and to 67% for those 55 and older. After Walmart, top shopping destinations for toys are Target (37%) and Dollar stores (20%). Consumers say they will buy toys from these retailers, whether in store or online, primarily because they offer a better selection of products to choose from (27%), are convenient (24% and because they offer low prices (23%). 
  • Just 13% of consumers say they will buy pet products as gifts this holiday season. Convenience is the top factor these shoppers consider when deciding when to buy pet products. However, the top factor for women was around selection. 

How Should Retailers Plan To Use These Insights? 

As the data shows, while many Americans will be heading online, others will still be heading into stores. And, where they shop and what they’ll be aiming to buy does vary quite a bit. So how can retailers leverage these insights to have a brighter holiday season? 

  1. Retail marketing messaging should focus on convenience. As the data clearly shows, consumers value convenience over just about everything else this holiday season. As such, retail marketers need to ensure their messaging shows shoppers how they are making their lives easier. For example, ads can show how easy it is to make purchases through an app or to pick up purchased items curbside. 

  2. Shore up your supply chain in key areas. With shipping and labor shortages sure to disrupt business as usual this year, brands and retailers should take steps now to avoid out of stock on desirable items this holiday season. Our data shows that consumers are more likely to seek out home goods and home electronics this holiday season than they are to buy sporting goods or pet products. 
  3. Differ your messaging based on audiences. Not all consumers will be looking for the same things or shopping in the same way this holiday season. While younger people are most likely to shop using their mobile devices and seek out items like home electronics, older consumers are more likely to shop in person and aim to buy apparel. Marketing messages should be personalized and tailored to the shopper’s needs or preferences, Also, advertising should be targeted to the relevant audience segments of shoppers most likely to buy your items or goods

What do you think will be the main holiday shopping trends this year? Let us know on social media! You can reach out to us on LinkedInTwitterFacebook or Instagram.  

Interested in learning more about InMobi and how we work with brands and retailers during this key time of the year? Reach out today to speak with one of InMobi’s experts

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