Canadian Consumers Hoping for a ‘Green’ Christmas

Eighth annual holiday shopping survey shows budgets are flat; consumers focused on responsible retail

TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2019 /CNW/ – Environmentally friendly products will account for approximately one-third of Canadians’ spending this holiday season, according to findings from the eighth annual Holiday Shopping Survey from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

While Canadians expect to spend roughly the same this year as last year — about $721, on average, versus $733 last year — the survey found a growing trend of “responsible retail,” with shoppers more concerned about the environmental and social impact of their purchases.

For instance, consumers said they expect to spend, on average:

  • 30% of their holiday shopping budget on gifts that are recyclable
  • 27% on gifts that are reusable
  • 19% on gifts made by “green” companies

Further, nearly three in five Canadians (58%) said retailers have a responsibility to address wider social issues, and more than half (51%) said they’d give more of their business to retailers they deem responsible this holiday season.

“With increased awareness about the climate crisis, it’s no surprise that responsible retail matters now more than ever, especially going into the holiday season, where we typically see an increase in consumption and waste,” said Robin Sahota, a managing director at Accenture who leads its Retail practice in Canada. “Consumers want to fill stockings based on companies’ offerings of both environmentally friendly products and sustainable business practices.”

Fewer Planning to Shop on Black Friday & Boxing Day

Approximately four in 10 consumers (41%) said they plan to shop on Black Friday, and nearly the same number said they plan to shop on Boxing Day (42%), compared with approximately six in 10 in last year’s survey who said they’d shop on those days. In addition, one-third (32%) of consumers said they plan to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals.

Amidst this drop in Black Friday and Boxing Day plans, more than half (54%) of consumers said they now buy their gifts throughout the year due to the rise of constant discounts offered by retailers, including deal websites and promotional sales such as Amazon Prime Day.

“Retailers have traditionally counted on Black Friday and Boxing Day to meet their sales targets for the year, but consumers aren’t willing — and don’t need — to wait for deals anymore, as holiday shopping has become a year-long trend,” Sahota said.

Green-minded Shoppers Opting for Packaging-free & In-store Pickup

With 68% of Canadians planning to do some holiday shopping online, many will be looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Almost half (47%) of Canadian consumers — and even more younger millennials (58%) — who said they were aware of the environmental impact of faster shipping said they will choose greener options, such as in-store pickup or ground transportation instead of air. An additional 23% who said they were unaware of the environmental impact of faster shipping now plan to opt for greener options this holiday season.

Despite companies getting more creative with product packaging, 64% of Canadian consumers said they want to see retailers lead the charge and offer packaging-free products and deliveries. More than three in five consumers (63%) also said they would use recycling services offered by a retailer, and half (50%) said they would trade in or re-sell an item for a discount toward a gift purchase.

Consumers Putting Their Money Where Their Values Are

The survey also revealed that many consumers want to make their money count this holiday season. About half (51%) of consumers said they are more likely to shop at retailers that are addressing social issues through their business practices and working conditions.

“Consumers certainly prefer to spend their hard-earned money with retailers that share their values, including not only those related to sustainability, but also diversity and fair working conditions,” said Kelly Askew, a managing director in Accenture Strategy. “They recognize that part of spreading holiday cheer means shopping with purpose and choosing brands and companies that stand for something good.”

This is great news for retailers that are already walking the talk, especially since many consumers are looking to them for help making more responsible choices. For instance, more than two-thirds (70%) of Canadian consumers said they want clear labels on products made in sustainable ways, and nearly the same number (69%) want to see the origin of materials and ingredients used to make products.

Other Key Findings From the Canadian Holiday Shopping Survey

Go-to gifts remain consistent: The top gifts that shoppers plan to buy are gift cards (cited by 55% of respondents), followed by clothing and footwear (49%) and toys (34%).
Free delivery is a big draw: Half (50%) of consumers are willing to wait longer for their items to be delivered in exchange for free delivery.

Mobile shopping on the rise: While more than 40% of Black Friday and Boxing Day shopping will be done in-store, more consumers will be shopping on the go. Canadians expect to do 25% of their Black Friday shopping on phones or tablets (up from 18% last year) and 33% of their shopping via laptop or desktop (down from 41% last year).

About the Survey

For this year’s study, Coleman Parkes Research, on behalf of Accenture, surveyed a representative sample of 1,500 Canadian consumers online, each of whom had purchased an item for personal use online or in a store within the previous six months. Respondents were sourced equally from the Toronto, Montreal and Calgary areas and split evenly between gender and by age group, with 20% each of Generation Zers (aged 18-20), younger millennials (aged 21-27), older millennials (28-37), Generation Xers (38-54), and baby boomers (55 and older). The survey was conducted in September and October 2019.

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 492,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at Accenture.ca.

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