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A Political Holiday Split Screen

Oct 17, 2016
Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Advisor ;

We’ve heard a lot – and are about to hear more – about how the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees feel on a wealth of issues. But what do their supporters feel about the weighty issues surrounding the 2016 holiday shopping season? And do their attitudes about holiday shopping tie back to the messages their candidate will likely be voicing during the final debate on October 19, 2016?    

Debt and government overspending are time honored election themes but whose supporters show more fiscal responsibility when it comes to their annual holiday shopping?

On the economy: Out of the gate, Trump supporters are more likely to say that the state of the economy will have a “significant impact” on their holiday purchases this year (15% of Trump supporters, vs. 11% of Clinton supporters).

On spending: Democrats are often accused by their political rivals of overspending and driving up the national debt, and echoes of this narrative can be seen to some degree among Clinton supporters’ spending habits and plans. Clinton supporters are more likely than Trump supporters to say they plan on spending more this holiday season than in 2015 (15% of Clinton supporters vs. 11% of Trump supporters), despite the fact that they’re also more likely to still be paying off debt from the last holiday season (23% of Clinton supporters vs. 17% of Trump supporters).

On budget cuts: As for getting the best deals, Trump supporters are more likely to identify special sale prices (64% of Trump supporters vs. 58% of Clinton supporters) and overall value for the price (62% of Trump supporters vs. 54% of Clinton supporters) as factors that will influence where they shop for the holidays this year.


Analyzing the results

Even this year’s intense election cycle has done little to dampen consumer confidence going into the holiday season, which we forecast to grow moderately.

And while there are significant differences between the presidential candidates, there is very little difference in how each of their supporters plans to approach their 2016 holiday shopping. Although marketing to Trump and Clinton supporters separately isn’t necessary, marketers do need to pay attention to the distraction this election is for consumers and how it will impact their shopping behavior, at least in the short term.  Retailers will need to find ways to break through the noise surrounding the election and be innovative in marketing to consumers. The best way to get the attention of the distracted is to give them a great deal. They’ll be back regardless of who wins the election. 


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Annual Holiday Survey

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