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Consumers’ Economic Anxieties Could Make for a Challenging Holiday Season for Retailers

The holiday shopping season perennially holds great significance for retailers, and this impact is heightened in 2023 due to shifting consumer behaviors influenced by economic dynamics and evolving preferences. There are several factors influencing consumer sentiment this holiday season. Our survey clearly indicates that inflation remains a top concern for holiday shoppers and broad U.S. economic indicators give credence to shoppers’ perspectives. 

The declining and cautious shopper economic sentiment was not surprising given corresponding trends reported by the University of Michigan Survey of Consumers.1 The latest Consumer Expectations Index dropped considerably more than 10% from September to October. The decline was driven primarily by ongoing concerns about inflation and, to a lesser degree, uncertainty over the implications of negative news both domestically and abroad. This paints a less-than-optimistic outlook for retailers anticipating robust holiday sales and high gross margins.

To gain deeper insights into how U.S. consumers perceive the economy and their own financial situations, as well as their holiday shopping and spending intentions for 2023, Ankura’s Performance Improvement team surveyed2 a representative U.S. sample of more than 1,000 consumers with plans to shop for holiday gifts in 2023.

The goal of the survey was to analyze consumer sentiment about the economy, their personal finances, and the upcoming holiday season.

The results indicate that retailers could face significant challenges in converting customers in-store and online this holiday season.

1 The Surveys of Consumers are conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan
2 Ankura consumer survey, U.S. sample of 1,048 respondents aged eighteen and above (October 2023)

© Copyright 2023. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of Ankura Consulting Group, LLC., its management, its subsidiaries, its affiliates, or its other professionals. Ankura is not a law firm and cannot provide legal advice.


business intelligence, economics & statistics, performance improvement, report, retail, transformation

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