project44’s 2023 Peak Season Survey Reveals Consumers Plan to Spend More on Holiday Gifts Despite Inflation This Year

Consumers plan to spend more and predominantly purchase gifts online, revealing opportunities for retailers despite persistent inflation concerns

CHICAGO, Sept. 26, 2023 — project44, the leading supply chain visibility platform, today released the findings of its 2023 Peak Season Consumer Survey, the latest in an annual series that provides insight on consumer sentiment as the peak holiday shopping season approaches. More than a thousand consumers in North America (80% in the U.S. and 20% in Canada) shared their plans for holiday spending, shipping, sustainability and other topics.

Despite the higher cost of living, 55% plan to spend more on holiday shopping in 2023 than they did last year. More than half say they will complete 51% or more of their seasonal shopping online this year, with 68% reporting that they’ll spend as much or more online than they did in 2022. This represents a large shift from the survey’s 2022 findings, when 78% of consumers said they planned to spend at least 10% less during the holiday season due to inflation.

“These results show strong consumer optimism about the upcoming holiday shopping season, especially in the context of economic doom and gloom we’ve been hearing about for the past several months,” said Christian Jordan, Senior Vice President of Product at project44. ​“Brands have a real opportunity to stand out in the marketplace by improving the customers’ experience with more delivery options and added communication touchpoints to manage delivery exceptions and provide updates on changing ETAs throughout the shipping process.”

Additional key findings from the 2023 Peak Season Consumer Survey include the following:

Shipping is on holiday shoppers’ minds. After years of disruptions, consumers are wary of delays, but are showing more confidence in on-time deliveries.

  • Top concerns for shoppers in 2023 are increased prices for goods tied with higher shipping costs and higher free-shipping thresholds. Shipping delays followed close behind
  • 79% of respondents are confident they’ll receive their gifts on time, up from 71% in 2022
  • 35% of respondents said they would pay extra to make sure their gifts arrive on time

Sustainability is important to shoppers, but priorities may be elsewhere this holiday shopping season. As global supply chains stabilize, fewer consumers are turning to local businesses to avoid shipping delays.

  • 53% of shoppers say they will prioritize brands that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability in 2023, down from 55% in 2022
  • Most holiday shoppers consider environmental impact, but 24% said sustainability isn’t a factor for them in 2023 versus just 16% who excluded it as a factor in 2022
  • Fewer shoppers in 2023 report that they plan to reduce their carbon footprint by shopping at locally owned small businesses (44%) or paying a premium for greener products or brands (21%)

Online and omnichannel brands are likely to see the most holiday traffic this year.

  • 54% of U.S. respondents plan to buy at least half their gifts online this year, compared to 36% of Canadian shoppers
  • Younger shoppers are most likely to compromise on their purchases to get a better deal with 76% of 18–25-year-olds saying they would. Respondents 65 and older are the least likely at only 49% saying they would compromise on gifts

Trends such as greater confidence in on-time deliveries and increased reliance on e-commerce highlighted in project44’s Peak Season Survey demonstrate consumers’ growing trust in the global supply chain. The pandemic revealed just how fragile global supply chains are, and black swan events like the Panama Canal drought continue to disrupt holiday shipping and beyond. Now is the time for businesses to get ahead of never-normal supply chains. For businesses to uphold consumer confidence, dedication to a better supply chain network needs to be an investment for the future.

View the full 2023 Peak Season Consumer Survey and findings here.