PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., December 12, 2019 – Although online shopping has erased geographic barriers for many consumers, there are still holiday shopping behaviors that differ between urban and rural consumers. Urban consumers in the U.S. plan to spend 33% more on their holiday shopping this year than those in rural areas, and rural consumers are most likely to buy some of the key categories of the season, according to insights from the 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey from The NPD Group. Consumers respond to the major holiday shopping events, but their environment plays a role in the nuances of what that response looks like.

“The growth in online shopping has increased the importance of understanding how a consumer’s location impacts their shopping behaviors,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. “Retailers need to understand how behaviors between rural and urban shoppers differ in order to reach each of these shoppers with relevant marketing messages, especially throughout the competitive holiday shopping season.”

City-slickers will buy online and pick up in store.

Urban consumers plan to spend $843 this holiday season, which is more than the $736 planned by those who live in suburban areas or the $636 indicated by consumers in rural areas. These city-dwellers are more likely to buy online and pick-up in-store – 28% plan to take advantage of BOPUS options – and have packages delivered to a locker or inside their home. They are also more likely to buy electronics, and care about social, environmental, or political issues.

Rural consumers will focus on home and fun.

Holiday shoppers in rural areas of the U.S. plan to spend the least, but they are more likely to buy toys (41%), and products related to entertainment (43%) and the home (36%). These consumers are not influenced by a retailer’s or manufacturer’s position on issues.

The ‘burbs are the middle ground.

Holiday shoppers in suburban areas are the least polarized, but they are also the least likely to use social media for research – only 15%.

Coast to coast, Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day lead holiday shopping.

Regardless of region, consumers spent the most on Black Friday during the peak 2018 shopping weekend, followed by Thanksgiving Day. There were few differences through the rest of the days, but Small Business Saturday ranked highest in the Midwest, and Cyber Monday was most important on the West Coast*

Source: The NPD Group / 2019 U.S. Holiday Purchase Intentions

*Source: The NPD Group / Checkout

The Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey is designed to understand consumers’ shopping and spending intentions
for the upcoming holiday season. An online survey was fielded to members of The NPD Group’s online consumer panel in
September 2019. The survey was fielded to a U.S. representative sample. The results of 3,485 completed surveys are
presented in this report.


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