Poll: Online vs. in-store holiday shopping — and how much will you spend?

Nothing beats shopping online — except sometimes shopping in an actual store.

We surveyed 100 U.S. consumers to find out how they’re doing their holiday shopping. The ideal approach, according to respondents? A mix of online and in-store shopping.

With COVID-19 still a part of daily life, we also wanted to know how much money people plan on spending this season compared to last year.

Let’s look at the results of our holiday shopping polls.

Is this you?

Poll #1: Do you shop online or in stores?

For our first poll, we asked respondents whether they shop online (Option A), in person (Option B), or both (Option C).

Mix it up

Nearly half (47%) of our respondents prefer a mix of online and in-person holiday shopping, and they strategize accordingly.

They said product variety, availability, and the ease of comparing prices work in online shopping’s favor, while pandemic-related shipping issues and a desire to support the local economy drive their in-store purchases.

In their words

I find shopping online is a huge time saver. It also saves a lot in gas. I can often find deals faster without doing the foot work. But at least twice a year I need the tactile experience of going into a shop all decorated for Christmas and shopping for things.” — Female, 65+, $31-60k

“I shop both online and in person depending upon the type of gift, how quickly I need it, and how to get the lowest price. If I am rushed or don’t care that much I’ll prefer in person to online though.” — Male, 25-34, $61-100k

I like online shopping but with shipping delays, I like to go in person if possible.” — Female, 25-34, $61-100k

A mix of online and in person. Some things can be easily ordered online, some things I need to look over in a store and make sure it’s what I want.” — Male, 35-44, $31-60k

Click and ship

Forty percent said online-only shopping was the way to go, mainly for convenience and speed.

No traffic. No unexpectedly empty shelves. No human beings to deal with, which for some is especially appealing given the pandemic.

Holiday shopping in 2021: you, your laptop, and a couch.

In their words

“Choice A: online only. In-store holiday shopping is at best a pain in the butt, and at worst dangerous given the pandemic.” — Male, 35-44, $61-100k

“It’s easier to compare prices online — I also know if it is in stock. Most items I have tried to find in the store have been out of stock.” — Female, 35-44, $101k+

“Online shopping is so easy nowadays. I don’t see a reason to drive to the store, mingle with crowds, wait in long lines, etc.” — Female, 45-54, $61-100k

Kickin’ it old school

But for 13% of respondents, there’s no substitute for the sensory experience of shopping in a brick-and-mortar store.

In their words

“I like shopping in person because you can really get a feel of the product. Especially if it’s clothing, homewares, or something soft like that, it’s good to know and feel the material and quality.” — Female, 35-44, White, $0-30k

“I prefer to go in person — seems to inspire things than just looking online.” — Male, 25-34, White, $61-100k,

“I am kind of old school and like to touch things before I buy them so I VERY rarely buy something online unless it is just impossible to find locally.” — Male, 25-34, White, $0-30k

Shopping in an actual store is sometimes necessary and often satisfying. | Source: Unsplash

Other highlights

  • 45-to-54-year-olds make up the largest percentage of online-only shoppers (67%), followed by 25-to-34-year-olds (38.9%)
  • The highest-income earners ($101k+) prefer a hybrid shopping experience (66.7%)
  • 25% of respondents in the $0-30k income range would rather shop in person
  • Nearly 60% of female respondents prefer a mix of online and in-store shopping
  • 47.6% of male respondents prefer to shop exclusively online
Male respondents prefer Option A, online-only shopping, over the other options.
$31-$101k+ earners prefer Option C, a mix of online and in-store shopping.

Check out the full results and respondents’ comments in Poll 1, including a breakdown by geographic region, education level, and ethnic identity .

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Poll #2: What’s your holiday budget?

For this Open-ended poll, we asked people about their holiday spending and how it compares to last year.

The sweet spot is in the $101-$500 range. That’s what 53% of respondents who specified a dollar amount said they planned to spend on gifts.

Eighteen percent said they would spend $100 or less, while 17% plan on spending between $501-1000.

On the high end, 9% have budgeted up to $2,000 for holiday shopping, and two respondents said they’ll spend $5,000.

The pandemic’s effect on holiday spending

Ten respondents didn’t specify how their budget this year compares to last year. Of those who did, the majority — 81% — plan to shell out the same or less than last year.

Rising costs, job changes, and a shift in perspective are among the factors for those cutting back as well as the 19% who are spending more.

In their words

“I will be spending less as inflation has taken a hold of things. I would also opt for more experiences and less stuff. Less physical gifts are better I feel. Definitely less than last year.” — Male, 35-44, $61-100k

“I am planning on spending a grand which is half of what I spend because of the cost of everything that has gone up this year.” — Male, 25-34, $61-100k

“I only plan on spending about $250 for my wife, daughter, and mother. Last year I was still employed full-time and spent about $1,000 and was able to include most of my extended family.” — Male, 35-44, $31-60k

“2k total. It’s about quadruple last year’s. I also got a raise at work and a new job.” — Male, 35-44, $61-100k

“We have budgeted about $2,000 for gifts this year, which is up from the $1,000 we planned for last year. We are in a better position financially, and are spending more time with friends and family this holiday season because my entire family will be fully vaccinated by Christmas.” — Female, 25-34, $31-60k

Read all respondents’ comments and filter the results by age, income, and other demographics.

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Janet Rausa Fuller

Janet Rausa Fuller (she/her) is the content marketing manager at PickFu. She could live without dark chocolate, but she’d rather not.