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Holiday shopping: How the pandemic is changing habits

Holidays are typically a time for traditions and spending time with your family. But, this year, COVID-19 is impacting everything, including how we shop for gifts.

CLEVELAND — The holidays are fast approaching.

In a time that's anything but normal, normalcy is what people really want under the tree this year.

3News talked to Retailmenot resident shopping expert Sara Skirboll about how people are changing their shopping behaviors this year.

“66% of people just want a sense of normalcy, so they're going to be trying to recreate the same traditions that they have in the past,” says Sara.

One of those traditions is how much people spend on gifts over the holiday season.

“In fact, they're going to be spending about the same amount of money; around $547 per family on holiday gifts.”

Who exactly are we buying gifts?

Retailmenot broke down the numbers:

  • Children $283 ($243 in 2019)
  • Significant others $160 ($157 in 2019)
  • Parents $63 ($52 in 2019)
  • Siblings $46 ($35 in 2019)
  • In-laws $37 ($32 in 2019)
  • Shoppers will spend more on gifts for themselves ($82) than for their parents, in-laws or best friends ($31)

While the amount being spent on gifts isn't changing much, what people are buying is different this year.

In the past, gifting experiences, like a day at the spa, or a membership to a zoo or museum were really popular.

But this year -- thanks to COVID – Skirboll says we're going to see more traditional, tangible gifts.

“Think tech, think toys, things of that nature.”

Retailmenot ranked gifts by category:

  • 61% plan on purchasing electronics
  • 52% plan on purchasing clothing/accessories
  • 33% plan on buying shoes
  • 23% plan on purchasing jewelry
  • 18% plan on buying kitchen appliances

People are also changing when and how they shop.

“People are starting their holiday shopping earlier than ever,” says Skirboll.

 “About 75% of people are planning to shop online, which doesn't sound that revolutionary. But given COVID, it is a dramatic increase. We also know that 88% of people are not planning on shopping those thanksgiving door busters.”

Skirboll points out other ways the pandemic is changing the way people shop for holiday gifts.

 “A lot of people are going to be taking advantage of that buy online, pick up curbside and they're really going to be taking advantage of big shopping holidays.”