- Nearly half of Americans say holiday sales won’t make a difference this year because of inflation (48%)
- 45% of Americans worry they’re being taken advantage of when shopping major holiday sales
- More than half of Americans say they have been tricked into thinking they were getting a deal during holiday sales (51%)
Black Friday, arguably one of the most highly anticipated days of the holiday season, has been overshadowed by a series of online sales kicking off earlier than usual this year. This uptick in holiday sales has made it easier than ever for consumers to get a jumpstart on their holiday shopping. Yet, it’s added another element of chaos when it comes to comparison shopping across a myriad of online and in store retailers. Factor in inflation, and consumers are even less likely to know when they’re actually getting a good deal on a “sale” item.
According to a survey conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma, nearly half of Americans think holiday sales won’t make a difference this year because of inflation (48%). People in urban areas are feeling the pinch the most, 53% of urban respondents say they don’t think sales will make a difference amid rising costs.
Consumers are skeptical of holiday deals this year
The creep in inflation may be the source of deal suspicions among consumers. According to the survey, 45% of shoppers worry they’re being taken advantage of when shopping major holiday sales. Millennials and high wage earners, those with annual household incomes (HHI) above $100k, are most likely to express concerns of being taken advantage of – 55% and 49%, respectively.
Beyond such concerns, consumers are losing confidence in their ability to cash in on holiday sales. More than one-in-five respondents say they’re not confident they will get the best deal when shopping major holiday sales like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Prime Day this year (22%) with women being more likely than men to report suspicions, 25% compared to 19% of men.
This growing concern and lack of confidence among consumers could be rooted in personal experiences. According to the study, more than half of Americans say they’ve purchased an item during a holiday sale thinking they were getting a discounted price, only to find out later that they didn’t actually get a deal on the item (51%).
Consumers rely on coupons and promo codes – instead of sales – this holiday season
With the cost of goods at record highs, shoppers are getting crafty about ways to save this holiday season. In addition to typical holiday sales, nearly half of Americans say they’re reliant on coupons or promo codes, such as those from social media influencers, for their holiday shopping (47%). This was especially common among millennials, 59% of which said they’re reliant on coupons or promo codes this holiday season. High earners, those with annual HHI above $100k, were also more likely to rely on coupons and promo codes from social media influences to shop this year (53%).
Speaking of social media’s influence on shopping, nearly a quarter of holiday shoppers say they’re somewhat- to very likely to buy a gift if it’s been promoted on TikTok (24%), with another 26% of Americans saying they’re likely to buy a gift if it’s been promoted on Instagram. In both cases, Gen Z and millennials were more likely to buy a gift if it was promoted on one of the social media platforms.
|Somewhat- to very likely to buy a gift that’s promoted on TikTok||Somewhat- to very likely to buy a gift that’s promoted on Instagram|
Other holiday shopping hacks to beat inflation? Start early.
According to the study, 46% of Americans have started their holiday shopping early because of inflation with the largest group of consumers doing a majority of their shopping on Amazon (38%) or in person at chain stores and shopping malls (28%). Despite getting a head start, 23% of shoppers have already gone into debt because of early holiday shopping this season, with millennials and Gen Z being the most likely to admit they’ve already taken on debt this holiday season, 37% and 32% respectively.
When asked what they’re most likely to go into debt for this holiday season, 34% say they’ll go into debt to afford gifts for others, while 22% and 15% respectively, say they’re most likely to go into debt to pay for groceries for holiday meals and necessities.
For whomst are you going into debt?
A quarter of Americans say they are likely to spend more money on themselves than others this holiday season (25%), while 55% say they’re unable to splurge on themselves because of inflation. When it comes to putting oneself first this year, men are 2x more likely to treat themselves than women – 36% compared to 15% of women. Generationally speaking, millennials are more likely to put themselves first (42%), compared to 11% of Boomers+.
“With sustained inflation, labor shortages and supply chain issues, it’s not easy to find a deal this holiday season. That’s why it’s important for consumers to have a plan when shopping this year – and one they can stick to,” said Colleen McCreary, consumer financial advocate at Credit Karma. “In addition to having a plan, consumers should be vigilant about comparison shopping to ensure the ‘sale’ price being advertised, actually qualifies as a deal. Shoppers can take this one step further and set a price for what they are willing to pay for any big-ticket items on their list and, if it doesn’t get marked down to that price, pivot to a less expensive backup gift. If nothing else, take a page out of the surveyors’ book and look for coupons and promo codes for items on your list – oftentimes you can get coupons or cash back through online tools like Credit Karma Money, Honey or Rakuten.”
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma from October 26-31, 2022 among 1,008 adults ages 18 and older.