US survey finds growing trend of 'responsible retail'

03 Oct '19
3 min read
Pic: Shutterstock
Pic: Shutterstock

The vast majority of US consumers plan to spend at least as much this year on holiday gifts as they did last year and will visit stores for inspiration, according to results of Accenture’s 13th annual holiday shopping survey, which found a growing trend of ‘responsible retail’, with rising concerns about the environmental and social impact of purchases.

“Retailers need to design their products and their business around responsible initiatives; those already on this path could have the edge over their competitors this holiday season and beyond,” according to a press release from Accenture.

The online survey of 1,500 US consumers found that Americans expect to spend $637 on holiday shopping this year, on average, with approximately six in seven respondents planning to spend either the same (57 per cent) or more (28 per cent) than they did last year.

On an average, men expect to spend approximately 15 per cent more than women—$685 versus $588. Gift cards, clothing and footwear topped the list of planned purchases.

There does appear to be a level of caution among consumers this year, however, as the percentage of those who anticipate spending less rose slightly year on year, from 11 per cent to 15 per cent. The two leading factors that respondents cited as affecting their holiday shopping spend are rising food bills (cited by 32 per cent of respondents) and the desire to limit their credit card debt (31 per cent).

Consumers still love physical stores and browsing them for holiday gift inspiration.

The survey results go against the hype surrounding the demise of physical stores, with respondents saying they expect to do half of their holiday shopping this year in a store or mall, on an average. Stores play an important role when it comes to inspiring shoppers’ gift ideas. In addition, consumers were significantly more likely to say that, after seeing an item in a store, they would purchase the item in the store rather than searching online for a better price and purchasing online.

Perhaps not surprising, 82 per cent of respondents cited lower prices as the top factor that would tempt them to make an in-store purchase, followed by special offers and discounts (77 per cent).

The survey also identified how consumers are beginning to care more about our planet. They want clear labelling that products are made in sustainable or ethical ways, to be shown the origin of materials and ingredients and offered the option of packaging-free products and deliveries.

Further, half of the respondents said that, due to the negative environmental impact of fast-shipping options — which includes the use of planes rather than ground transportation, as well as the shipping of multiple items separately rather than together to expedite delivery — they would opt for delivery options with a lower environment impact, such as slower shipping or in-store pick-up.

Consumers are now looking at the carbon footprint of the different delivery options retailers offer.

Retailers have a responsibility to address wider social issues through their business practices and working conditions, and nearly half of the respondents (45 per cent) said they are more likely to do their holiday shopping with retailers that do just that.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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