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Less spending, more online pick-up among the 2020 holiday trends

Field Agent Canada survey of Canadians found that nearly two-thirds of respondents are likely to use pick-up services as COVID fears continue

It’s beginning to look a lot like COVID is going to thwart Canadians’ plans for a typical Christmas. A new survey conducted by Field Agent Canada has found that the pandemic will have a notable impact on holiday shopping, with more than three-quarters of people surveyed indicating that their habits will change in at least one way.

Half of the more than 1,400 respondents in the mobile survey said they planned to spend less on the holidays this year, with Field Agent saying increased restrictions on shopping because of a second wave could result in “significant challenges” for retailers.

Not surprisingly, a shift towards online shopping is the most notable change in behaviour identified by respondents, who also indicated they planned to buy more gift cards, spend less time browsing, and more time using services such as curbside pick-up.

With concerns around COVID-19 still very much top-of-mind, more than two-thirds of respondents said they are at least moderately likely to use online grocery pick-up this holiday season, with 13% indicating they are completely likely to use a service.

“Cutting down on time spent in-store is a priority for many pandemic-era shoppers,” the report said. “And pick-up offers a convenient way to avoid crowds (and their germs).”

Walmart is the retailer of choice for holiday grocery shopping, with more than one-quarter (28%) of respondents saying it is where they plan to spend the most money on food, snacks, beverages and ingredients. It is followed by Costco (21%), Real Canadian Superstore (14%) and Loblaws (11%), while No Frills/Maxi, Sobeys/IGA/Safeway/Thrifty also received mentions.

It does start to look like Christmas as usual when the survey turns to what consumers plan to eat and drink during the holidays, with “feel-good foods” like freshly baked cookies (not packaged brands), freshly baked pie and soda/pop topping the list of the foods, snacks and drinks they will be purchasing for their holiday food needs.

With baked goods a holiday staple, Field Agent also took a deep dive into the baking category to better understand which brands people most associate with their Christmas baking needs. Flour brand Robin Hood was the runaway leader, receiving 80 mentions—nearly four times as many as the next leading brand Betty Crocker, which earned 21 mentions.

Other brands receiving multiple mentions included Hershey’s (17), Pillsbury (13), Chipits (12), Eagle Brand (10), Rogers (10), Crisco (seven), and Duncan Hines and Tenderflake with six mentions apiece.

Coca-Cola was the runaway leader in the beverage category, earning 47 mentions. It ranked ahead of the alcohol brand Bailey’s (28) and Canada Dry and Carnation with 15 mentions each, while Pepsi garnered 12 mentions.

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