Recent projections from AAA, research firms like Accenture.com, Deloitte, and industry experts state that this holiday season Americans are planning to travel to see friends and family, and enjoy retail and entertainment venues at volumes unseen since pre-pandemic days. Despite overall rising costs on expenses like airline tickets, automobile fuel and the typical holiday grocery bill, the consensus seems to be that these necessary spends are worth it to many of us. For brands, big retailers and local businesses alike, this is exciting news in the wake of a challenging year.

To sum it all up, we’ve put together three key takeaways for those of us in the industry, below:

1. People plan to get together.

a. 53.4 million Americans plan to travel this holiday season (most by car), up 13% over 2020
b. 51% of consumers intend to go to holiday parties or to meals out
c. 44% plan to head out to festive events with others
d. 59% hope to travel to visit friends and family.

These social gatherings should lead to an increase in sales in consumer products with spending going to fashion apparel, beauty, personal care, food & beverage, adult beverage, gift and specialty items, and travel-related expenses and ancillary on-the-go purchases.

2. In-store is the preferred shopping method this year.

a. Even though many consumers will shop online, the survey shows that in-store shopping is on the rise.
b. 54% of shoppers of any age plan to do most of their holiday shopping in-store this season. Obviously, those who are immuno-suppressed, homebound or simply prefer online shopping may shop online or utilize curbside pickup as an option.
c. Gen Z or “Zoomers” represent the youngest buying group in the study. Born between the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, they lead the demographic pack in the “get out, have fun and play” trend with a whopping 7 out of 10 saying they plan to do their shopping in-store.

3. Preparation is key for retailers.

a. Most consumers are aware of the supply and demand crunch. Expect early shoppers and hire and train accordingly.
b. Teams with agility and flexibility will win the customer over with positive experiences in-store.
c. Black Friday foot traffic remains a question mark. While retailers should prepare for larger crowds on Friday, Nov. 26, it’s equally or more important to anticipate an overall increase in foot traffic spread over the entire holiday season.

Bottom-line: people are excited, retailers are resilient and if projections prove out, the retail industry and all industries that touch it, will have great reason to celebrate.

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