Skip to main content Skip to footer


Holiday shopping 2023: A season for ‘creative pragmatism’

Shoppers look to make festive spend work harder

5-minute read

October 30, 2023

In brief

  • Accenture’s Holiday Shopping Survey 2023 shows that ongoing financial pressures are inspiring consumers to make the most of their available spend.
  • A ‘creative pragmatism’ emerges: 64% of consumers cutting back on giving gifts to close family & friends, 55% buying materials for homemade gifts.
  • We see a reversal in the ‘shopping ahead’ trend as 51% of shoppers intend to start their holiday shopping in November or December.

Ho ho hum: Holiday shopping survey insights

As the holiday season approaches, the combination of inflation, high interest rates, and income uncertainties continues to put significant financial pressure on holiday shoppers. In response, consumers are embracing a mindset of “creative pragmatism”: making trade-offs and finding innovative ways to stretch their festive spend.  

Accenture's 17th Annual Holiday Shopping Survey reveals that individuals are carefully evaluating their choices, prioritizing time with loved ones, and seeking value in their spending decisions. And retailers are adapting their strategies and offerings to cater to the evolving needs and preferences of their customers.  

Accenture surveyed 5,533 consumers and 280 retail executives in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Sweden, and Netherlands.  

Our research found that only 18% of consumers feel optimistic about their financial situation going into the holiday season. Most consumers (59%) expect to spend the same this year as they did last year. However, nearly 3 in 10 (29%) plan to spend less, while only 12% intend to spend more. This contrasts sharply with the views of retail executives, 74% of whom expect customers to be spending more on holiday purchases this year compared to last year. 


of consumers plan to cut back on giving gifts to extended family and friends.


of consumers intend to cut back on utility usage, e. g. by having fewer decorative lights.


of consumers plan to cut back on giving gifts to close family and friends.


of consumers plan to make meals less elaborate due to cost involved.


of consumers have agreed not to exchange gifts with other adults due to budget constraints.


of consumers plan to socialize less due to costs involved. 

Holiday shopping trends: Creative—yet pragmatic—approach from consumers

Accenture’s research shows that while price (76%) and value for money (64%) top the list of most important deciding factors in how consumers will shop, and what they will spend money on this season, quality still matters to more than half of consumers (53%). 

 Many consumers appear to be exploring creative, yet practical, ways to make budgets stretch. For instance, some consumers indicated they are willing to compromise on convenience, with more than a half (54%) opting to collect from store versus doorstep delivery if it saves them money. And 61% of consumers intend to consciously buy items such as board games they can enjoy all year around.  

“The current economic environment is having an impact on consumer confidence, resulting in the emergence of far more thoughtful shoppers that might be described as "creative pragmatists” —  who, while being grounded in the reality that they may need to cut back in some areas, are also finding innovative ways to make their festive dollars stretch further, such as buying materials to make homemade gifts.” comments Jill Standish, Senior Managing Director, Retail.


of consumers will focus on purchasing items that will serve them beyond holidays, such as board games that can be enjoyed all year.

Foresight in 15: 2023 Holiday Shopping

Jill Standish, Laurent Thoumine and Jill Kramer discuss retail trends and strategies for a successful holiday season.

Gifting will look a little different this year

Overall, we see a shift in gifting patterns. 64% of consumers will cut back on gifts for close family & friends and 56% have agreed or plan to agree to not exchange gifts with other adults due to budget constraints. 66% are considering or already planning to buy second hand items in order to save money.  

Only 32% of those surveyed plan to spend the same amount or more on Luxury gifts this year, while 63% intend to spend as much or more than last year on Food gifts. 

Our survey also points to the potential reversal in the elongated holiday shopping season, and the revival of the Golden Quarter, with over half (51%) of consumers not starting shopping until November or December.


of consumers are looking forward to spending time with the people they care about.

Retailers pulling out all the stops

Our research reveals that retailers are doing all they can to win a share of consumer spend during the holiday season, with 96% offering an increased range of payment options, 96% working to improve the shopping experience, 96% increasing promotional and social media activities, 95% discounting prices, and 94% offering availability guarantees.

Retailers continue to focus on loyalty programs, driven by an intent to increase purchase frequency (56%), improve retention (52%), increase engagement (51%) and increase basket size (45%). Retailers are adapting to the changing landscape and consumer expectations to stay competitive during the holiday season.

Retailers should focus on gaining a more nuanced, data-driven understanding of each consumer, to improve the shopping experience, build trust and enhance loyalty, all while watching the bottom line.

Jill Standish / Senior Managing Director, Retail