Rights & Money

Holiday Shopping During COVID

Most of us are shopping online this year

By Caitlin Finlay


With all of the changes and restrictions in place to keep us safe from COVID-19, the 2020 holiday season is bound to look a little different.

Perhaps not surprisingly, more than 60% of us plan to shop online this year, more than twice the percentage reported last year. That’s according to “Home for the Holidays,” a recent survey conducted by the IBM Institute for Business Value that looked at plans for shopping, working, and travelling during the holiday season. Survey participants included more than 12,500 adults from Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“The research shows more consumers have started their holiday shopping earlier than in prior years, and many plan to shop online instead of in-store given rising cases of COVID-19,” said Jesus Mantas, a senior managing partner at IBM Services. “While last year 60% of shopping was done in-store and almost 30% online, this year those numbers may be nearly reversed.” Only 28% said they planned to shop in stores.

Those aged 55–70 saw the biggest change from 2019—an increase of 116% in the number of those who say they’ll be shopping online this year.

The survey also revealed a shift in the types of spending; rather than spending on dining or outings, people are prioritizing products to improve their time spent at home. Compared to previous years, there’s an expected increase of 39% on spending for digital or streaming services, a 33% increase for furniture, and a 13% increase for electronic goods.

The survey showed that most people are planning a quiet holiday season involving less spending, less travel, and less vacation time off from work. Compared to last year, there was an increase of 46% in those planning to participate in video conferencing over the holiday season and decreases of 66% in those planning to attend holiday parties, 53% in those expecting to attend religious services, and 29% in those sending holiday cards.

While the 2020 holiday season may look different, we can embrace new ways to celebrate with our families while following regulations to keep us safe.