The CQ: Inflation’s latest victim? Holiday gift giving
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Consumers are increasingly strapped for cash, and gift giving is predicted to take a big hit
Much like how the pandemic reshaped how people think about common long-held traditions and common life patterns (think: weddings & marriage, working in an office, forms of entertainment), the current inflationary environment seems to be having a similar influence. One item that appears to be getting upended this year is gift giving. Once a mainstay in family homes across the US, gift-giving is now poised for a sharp drop this holiday season — a near 50% cut, according data summarized in a recent Wall Street Journal article.
A gift-giving drop at this level may be surprising, especially given the resilience of Black Friday, which surpassed already-aggressive projections this year. But people now seem to be looking to cut costs — prices of consumer goods have risen significantly more than wages have this year, and 40% of Americans say they are having difficulty paying for essential household expenses, compared with 29% last year, according to the Census Bureau.
For better or for worse, life- and economy-shifting events like a recession, political upheaval, and pandemic tend to prompt people to rethink commonly held beliefs about how things “should” be. They can illuminate how certain parameters and priorities might be unbalanced — or, in fact, arbitrary. Whether holiday gift-giving will rebound in full force in the following years is unknown, but what is clear is that many people today see it as dispensable amid so much financial strain.
This move away from gift-giving is also symbolic of a larger trend we’re tracking at Forerunner: consumers are increasingly disenchanted with certain elements of hyper consumerism. After decades of seemingly unbridled consumption — across media, physical goods, and more — many consumers are looking to harken back to simpler forms of life, presenting opportunities for entrepreneurs to build with purpose.
We've spent the past several months researching this trend in the context of other consumer-shifting dynamics and are preparing to share the research findings very soon (more to come in a future CQ issue!).
This Week’s Top 10 Consumer Insights
The fashion industry is facing climate change challenges that are threatening supply chains. In order to survive, companies need to adapt to balance risk management and agility while strengthening partnerships in sourcing countries.
More people are taking side gigs to get by. November saw a 165,000 jump in workers holding multiple jobs. The largest group of side hustlers are 18 to 40-year-olds.
Gen Z returned to stores for Black Friday — and treated shopping as a social event. Less concerned about inflation than other Black Friday shoppers, they bought their favorite brands regardless of price.
Is Instagram over? The Atlantic explores this very question, finding that a mere 20% of teens named Instagram as their favorite social-media platform, with TikTok and Snapchat coming in first and second place.
According to new research, these are the in-store features that consumers want most: access to mobile apps (81%), QR codes to check prices and inventory (81%), digital rewards and coupons (77%), alternative payment methods (76%), and self-service kiosks (51%).
Almost 1 million older Americans are “kinless,” without family to care for them as they age. That number is predicted to increase and these solo agers have limited options for support.
Since 2020, Instagram has launched 10 monetization tools, but many have shut down. Many creators have grown tired of Instagram’s constant changes and are turning away from the social media platform.
Kids prefer Robux—Roblox’s currency—over cash. And parents are cool with it: Topping off an account that kids can independently use to buy a virtual Gucci jacket for less than $5 saves parents money, time, and hassle.
Consumers returned $279.03 billion worth of merchandise this year. Over 60% were “bracket” purchases, buying versions of the same product with the intent to return some. Some retailers have started charging customers a return fee, but 54% of shoppers say they won't make purchases if there is a return charge.
Shein Exchange’s business model isn’t very profitable and is likely a front for greenwashing. What’s more, the shopping experience at the retailer’s new resale platform is full of glitches, nonexistent search features, and canceled orders.
Fast Company highlights how more couples are requesting charitable donations through Zola instead of gifts.
Buy Side from WSJ calls Chime “the safest secured card for building credit.”
Fast Company covers the hire of Ami Vora, Faire’s first chief product officer, and his goal to introduce new ads.
Kirsten Green makes Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.
Work at a Portfolio Company
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