Payments Data Offers Insight on 2022 Holiday Spending Expectations

Nov  17 
Mike Spriggs  Director, Product Development, SpendTrend 

Omnichannel convenience and flexible payment experiences can help businesses combat economic pressures

In the face of continuing economy uncertainty, merchants are scrambling to recalibrate traditional strategies to match the times.

To get a clearer picture of what to expect for this year’s holiday shopping season, we explored 2022 market trends and purchasing patterns by analyzing consumer data compiled by SpendTrend® from Fiserv. We also considered economic indicators to help identify what factors are likely to make the biggest impacts on consumers this season.

SpendTrend provides a comprehensive look at card-based consumer spending each month, aggregating retail sales data and consumer spending patterns across more than four million merchant locations in all major retail verticals.

Overview of 2022

Overall, our analysis showed that spending slowed in 2022, largely driven by sluggish retail performance. While the average ticket amount on retail sales rose by 5% through October 2022, the total number of transactions decreased by 5%, and this combination stifled spending at retail.

During the pandemic, people bought durable goods such as electronics, appliances, home furnishings and hobby-related products. In 2022, these same categories have trended downward. For example, year-over-year spending on electronics and appliances has dropped by almost 11% in 2022 through October.

Despite a return to familiar domestic routines, shifts in spending priorities have continued for consumers. Compared to pre-pandemic spending, there is less focus on goods and more on experiential spending. Restaurants, hotel, travel and leisure have sustained fairly aggressive growth, even in the face of inflationary pressure and the increase in gas prices.

Many of the economic indicators that typically give color to consumers’ actions and attitudes are offering a less clear picture of spending to come in Q4. The unemployment rate in October was 3.7%, which is good but recent headlines report significant layoffs across tech and retail. The inflation rate, while still very high, dropped in October to 7.7%, the lowest rate since December 2021. U.S. GDP growth jumped up to 2.6% in Q3 2022 after two consecutive quarters of negative growth, helping to lessen fears of an imminent recession. 

But consumers’ savings rates have fallen further to 3.1%, the lowest it has been since April 2008. And lastly, consumer sentiment has notched up to 59.9, building back from a decades-low of 50.0 in June. The sum total of all of this makes it difficult to forecast the success of this holiday season.

Expectations for Holiday 2022

We do anticipate slower growth in retail spending compared to last year. Our recent Q3 2022 Gift Card Gauge supported this expectation, with one out of four consumers planning to spend less on gifts this season. Inflation and anticipated supply chain issues fueled consumer concerns, according to the survey.

Retailers should expect an uptick in online shopping. Sales on Cyber Monday are expected to overtake Black Friday, with 42% of shoppers from the Gift Card Gauge survey saying they plan to shop mostly online during the holidays, up from 37% the previous year.

The spend on goods is shifting from the preference of durable products popular during the pandemic back to nondurable products, with an expected increase in products that offer buy now, pay later (BNPL) financing. Gift card habits are anticipated to remain unchanged from 2021, according to the Gift Card Gauge survey.

Takeaways

Armed with lessons from a turbulent recent past and insights into consumer attitudes about future uncertainty, retail business owners can address predicted shortfalls by meeting their customers where they are. This means offering BNPL and omnichannel options that increase engagement, make the buying process easy for your customers and build relationships that transcend market factors.

For restaurants, hotel, travel and leisure, the advice is similar: make sure you have payments options and promote the experience you are selling.