For Immediate Release Citigroup Inc. (NYSE: C)

U.S.: 'Tis the Season for Next-Gen Holiday Shopping—New Research Shows Consumers Increasingly Adopting Tech-Driven Purchasing Habits

November 09, 2018


Nationwide Citi Retail Services study finds 57 percent of consumers plan on shopping on a computer, 42 percent on a mobile device and 13 percent through a virtual assistant this holiday season

Chicago/New York – Today, Citi Retail Services (CRS) announced the results of its third-annual nationwide study on evolving consumer shopping trends during the holiday season. The survey of 1,000 U.S. adults found that this holiday season, in addition to rushing to the mall, consumers are increasingly powering up their computers and mobile devices or simply interacting with their virtual assistant. While nearly three-fourths (73 percent) still plan on visiting a brick-and-mortar store to purchase holiday gifts, a sizable 57 percent additionally plan on turning to their computer to shop, 42 percent to their mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, and 13 percent to their virtual assistant, such as Alexa or Siri, to facilitate their holiday shopping needs.

And while millennials are at the forefront of this shift in the holiday path to purchase, Gen Xers are right there with them. Sixty percent of millennials and 53 percent of Gen Xers plan on using their laptops or computer for their holiday shopping this year, 55 percent of millennials plan on using a mobile device, followed by 48 percent of Gen Xers and when it comes to voice assistants, Gen Xers take the lead with 22 percent employing voice commands, surpassing millennials at 17 percent.

"What we're seeing is that technology is altogether reshaping the holiday shopping season," said Leslie McNamara, Chief Marketing Officer and Head of Workforce Development, Citi Retail Services. "Consumers are turning to connected devices to purchase gifts in droves and for retailers, this means rethinking their marketing strategy to encompass a robust strategy—including voice technology—to reach consumers in their evolving channel of choice and ensure a seamless shopping experience."

And with smart-speaker ownership poised to continue to increase dramatically (Adobe predicts that smart speaker ownership will rise to nearly half—48 percent—of U.S. consumers after the holiday season from 32 percent in August), voice-driven shopping behavior is likely to rise right along with it, providing retailers with a year-round opportunity to seamlessly connect with consumers and drive brand loyalty.

Also, as consumers adopt new means to shop for the holidays, they continue to leverage innovative ways to extend their purchasing power. Eighty-four percent of consumers are planning to shop at a store where they are a rewards member, specifically so that they can accumulate discounts and/or rewards points, and 60 percent of rewards members have opted not to use their rewards on purchases throughout the year so they can allocate them toward a holiday gift.

Further, more than one-quarter of shoppers (26 percent) anticipate they will save an impressive $200 or more this holiday season, thanks to their rewards programs. And, again, millennials and Gen Xers lead the way with 33 percent and 28 percent, respectively, expecting to save $200 or more by leveraging rewards.

And with retailers continuing to see strong enrollment in rewards programs (Eight out of 10 [83 percent] consumers are currently enrolled in at least one rewards program, with one in four [26 percent] belonging to five or more), there's an immense opportunity to engage consumers in these crucial moments. In addition, the CRS research showed that consumers are keenly aware of which rewards programs they are enrolled in, with nearly nine out of 10 (88 percent)—and 95 percent of millennials—confirming they are more loyal to stores where they are a rewards member.

Other key findings include:

It's the Most Wonderful Time to Start Shopping... Or Wait

Among those who will buy gifts this holiday season, over a third (37 percent) plan on spending more than they did last year, and 69 percent plan to kick off their holiday shopping before, or on, Black Friday. And while millennials and Gen Xers are getting a head start on their shopping (74 percent of millennials and 77 percent of Gen Xers are starting to shop before, or on, Black Friday), Boomers are largely doing the opposite with 40 percent waiting to start their shopping after Black Friday.

Here We Come a Gifting—and Returning

Given the volume of gifts both received and given during the holiday season, returns are inevitable. Almost half (48 percent) of consumers admit to exchanging a gift and purchasing another item, either for themselves or for someone else.

But again, when it comes to returning holiday gifts, behavior is generational and therefore, evolving over time. While 74 percent and 76 percent of millennials and Gen Xers admitted to returning a holiday gift, only 59 percent of Boomers have done the same.

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: | Blog: | Facebook: | LinkedIn:

Citi Retail Services
Citi Retail Services (CRS) is the leading payments provider to many of the most notable brands in retail. With a diverse footprint spanning across sectors, including big box, apparel, electronics, industrial, powersports and more, CRS is shaping the industry and helping to drive major transformations across the retail space. Informed by handpicked data and insights, Citi Retail Services offers partners expert tools and solutions to build customer loyalty, increase profitability and drive business growth. There are more than 9,000 dedicated CRS employees strategically located across the U.S. Citi Retail Services is backed by the global capital, strategic insights and leadership of Citi (NYSE: C).

Media Contact
Leslie Ticku, 718-248-1248

Sign up to receive the latest news from Citi.