How to Win Holiday Shoppers: Peak Season Consumer Trends in 2022 

Published on November 30, 2023
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Filed under Shipping News
Read time 12 Minutes

Because economic stress has been a major financial driver this year, the 2022 holiday shopping season will be a departure from 2021 and 2020. Raising costs and inflation have replaced previous concerns such as low inventory. Because ShipStation is an ecommerce platform, we knew we needed to get our own pulse on the situation. That’s why we surveyed thousands of consumers and merchants around the globe to better understand how to know what to expect this holiday shopping season. Luckily, the situation isn’t as dire as some may fear. Yet, what we found was revelatory. Some of the most important findings revolve around the alignment of customers and retailers. Consumer concerns are not in-line with merchant optimism. Another place there isn’t alignment is where rising costs will be absorbed.

Shoppers will be looking for ways to cut spending. As a result, additional fees like shipping are among the biggest ways they plan to cut back. Merchants, on the other hand, see increasing shipping fees as a simple way to pass along their added costs. So, whether this means customers will be returning to brick-and-mortar stores more than they did at the height of COVID or if they will be searching the internet for the best deals is yet to be seen. However, there are still ways merchants can offer a great shopping experience while keeping costs low to win hesitant shoppers. 

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Merchants Expect to Sell More

Merchants are optimistic about holiday shopping forecasts. They have a good reason to be! While filling their shelves has been more expensive, it has been a struggle to get inventory stocked. Very few businesses expect to sell less than they did last year. With customers searching for the lowest prices, it could be tough for the average merchant to sell the same volume—even with more items on hand. The reality of inflation means that even if shoppers spend as much as they did last year, this doesn’t translate to the same amount of items. 

Consumers Say They’ll Spend Less

ShipStation found that American consumers anticipate spending $30 billion less during the 2022 holiday season than last year. This is a result of economic uncertainty. Many shoppers have been hit hard by inflation and the resulting rising costs it has brought. How much this $30 billion translates to in individual reductions in spending has yet to be fully seen. What we do know is where shoppers plan on cutting back. 

Which Industries Will Be Hit Hardest

The hardest-hit retail markets are likely staples of the holiday shopping rush. Sectors like apparel, electronics, toys, and home goods are likely to see the biggest cutbacks this year. While there may be some relief—these are also the biggest areas of spending—merchants need to make the shopping experience as convenient, affordable, and straightforward as possible to win buyers. Otherwise, shoppers will wait for a deal that works for them. In-cart surprises may give pause and lead to more cart abandonment. 

Who Is Spending Less

At 34%, a majority of shoppers are distressed about the holiday shopping season. And together with the 30.3% that is secure but concerned, this equals almost 65% of shoppers are concerned about spending. Distressed shoppers skewed older while secure but concerned shoppers were largely younger. It makes sense that older Americans living on a budgeted fixed income will have to avoid non-essential spending more than younger shoppers. The question that remains, though, is who they won’t be shopping for this year. 

Consumers & Merchants Disagree About Shipping Costs

With inflation being such a big driver of holiday shopping concerns this year, there may be a disconnect between what customers and merchants want. While added costs will be absorbed by everyone from the manufacturers, to merchants, inflation will especially be passed on to customers. So, while merchants are glad that supply chain delays have started easing, consumer concerns have begun growing more than in the past two years. 

Consumers Care About High Costs of Shipping

With shoppers looking for the best deals, there is a greater likelihood they will shop around to find the most affordable option. Even without inflation concerns, there is wider availability this year than last. So customers are already less likely to buy now! 

There are still typical holiday shipping concerns like the speed of delivery and convenience features. After all, porch pirates are much more common during the holiday season and people like to open their presents on Christmas! However, 30.3% of responders reported that the delivery cost is their biggest concern. This may spell trouble for online merchants.

Merchants Want to Pass Along Costs of Shipping

Rising fuel costs have increased across the board. Buying inventory is making profit margins thinner for businesses everywhere. While merchants are eating some of these added costs, there are ways they can make the holidays more affordable. We found that the biggest way businesses plan on passing costs to customers is by increasing the cost of delivery. However, the goodwill that consumers felt towards small businesses at the beginning of COVID has dwindled along with their surplus savings. After a year of sparse inventory, economic uncertainty again reigns supreme and could spell trouble for smaller merchants looking to protect their profit margins. 

How to Win This Holiday Season

Save on Shipping Costs 

One of the simplest ways to save money running an ecommerce business is to save on shipping costs. And that’s where ShipStation can definitely help you. ShipStation Carrier Services gives you savings of up to 89% off carrier rates. The holiday season sees increased shipping costs and with substantial discounts on UPS, DHL Express, USPS, GlobalPost, and more, you can cut costs and pass savings on to your customers. Even with the presence of holiday surcharges, you can save a substantial amount of money on fulfilling orders. 

Customers searching for deals this holiday season will likely be shopping later. Even if Christmas is right around the corner, last minute shoppers can be adding items to their cart. As this happens, more holiday shipping deadlines will pass, and customers will switch to more premium, express services. Deeper discounts on express services gives you the upper hand over the competition. 

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Automate Fulfillment

The added order volume of the holiday rush can quickly become an “all hands on deck” situation. A shipping program like ShipStation can allow you to do more with fewer hands. With simple automation features, ShipStation automatically applies your preferred shipping methods services to orders upon import. Hands-off automation applies the best service whether a customer selects a standard shipping option at checkout, an order contains items that require signature confirmation, or any other preference! 

From here, ShipStation allows you to bulk print labels in batches of up to 500. Instead of sifting through each order, you can ship with speed and confidence. Generate all the labels you need to send out in just a few clicks and move on to something else! 

Scan to Verify

There’s nothing more frustrating than sending the wrong package to a customer except for, maybe, sending the wrong package during the holiday season. Luckily, ShipStation users can take advantage of our scan-to-verify shipping feature. Scan to Verify requires whoever’s packing an order to scan the UPC or SKU barcode on each item in an order before the label will print. This helps avoid duplicate or missing items being shipped, increases customer satisfaction, and can lead to more repeat customers during the holiday season and beyond. 

Embrace Multichannel Selling

With customers searching for deals this holiday season, the likelihood is high that they’ll shop from familiar places. Hosting products on popular marketplaces is easier than you might think. There’s still time to sell on Amazon or eBay. ShipStation also integrates with over a hundred selling channel integrations, so you can always find more places to list products that fit your brand. A major reason that customers prefer these platforms is that they have very customer-focused shipping and return policies. And sellers that leverage ShipStation have increased efficiency and quicker turnaround times.  

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Despite surging prices, holiday shoppers are still shopping this holiday season. Staying in-step with them is going to be crucial this year. As stock levels and prices stabilize, customers are going to be looking for the best deals. As should sellers! That’s why ShipStation is committed to helping you have a better holiday season. Our research study is our gift to ecommerce sellers and businesses of all sizes! And if you need an extra hand shipping your orders, or if you want to save some money on label fees, we’re here to help! 

Written by

James Messer

James Messer is a copywriter specializing in shipping, logistics, and ecommerce.

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