It’s the most wonderful time of the year – for seeing friends and family AND looking at how consumers around the world are feeling about the economy and what they hope to give and receive as gifts. As many countries celebrate end-of-year traditions, Synthesio has kicked off our annual Holiday Shopping study with our friends from SIA and Ipsos.Digital.

This year’s study is powered by a Synthesio dashboard tracking English language social media mentions, and our AI-powered Topic Modeling trend discovery engine to spot consumer “conversation clusters” to see which topics are naughty and which are nice. Along with these social signals, we have partnered with the FastFacts team to survey 10,000 respondents across 12 markets: Australia, Brazil, Chile, France, Germany, Italy, Romania, Spain, Singapore, Philippines, UK and US.

As we have seen and discussed, combining solicited and unsolicited insights (surveys and social and even search) allow marketers and insights pros to get a more complete picture of consumer needs and wants. Which is why we have emphasized this approach in this latest research.

In last year’s Countdown to Christmas study we saw shoppers starting early, stress around delivery delays and product availability, and gift cards and electronics appearing prominently on wish lists. So, what is the mood in 2022? In two words: anxiety and anticipation. Anxiety around global uncertainty and rising prices. And anticipation around getting back out after COVID, attending family gatherings, and even getting a great deal.

As I shared during the recent Convergent Commerce KEYS Webinar, early results of our study show three trends:

Inflation is having a real impact on spending. 87% say rising costs will impact their holiday shopping, 56% will look for the best prices, deals, and coupons, and 34% will spend less money on holiday decorations. Others are reducing spend on food and drink, and even charitable donations. Yet in some countries, the party will go on, with Germany, the US, and the UK leading the way in saying that rising costs will have no impact on their celebrations. And in social conversations we see many saying how they are looking forward to in-store experiences, seeing decorations, hearing holiday music etc.

Consumers are embracing “convergent commerce.” 23% of consumers are planning to increase their in-store shopping vs 17% who will decrease it. And products that consumers touch or try are being purchased more in store – such as beauty gifts (65% purchased in store in the 6 countries we studied last year vs 59% in 2021), home goods (64% vs 58%), and fashion (63% vs 58%). Yet each of these items are also being purchased online (57%/58%/62% in 2022). When it comes to many categories, omnichannel is omnipresent, and pushing retailers to both evolve the role of their stores and how their shoppers move between channels. See more in this brand new Ipsos Views.

Fashion, Food and Gift Cards are trending. As we have studied earlier this year, fashion is an online phenomenon, driven by marketplaces, deal sites, and Gen Z fashion lovers and influencers embracing social media sites like Twitch, Tumblr, and TikTok. It’s the top gift category in our survey, by 10 points over the #2 item Toys (45% to 35%). Beauty items are #3 at 32%, and Groceries and Food is up to #4 this year at 30%, from #7 last year, perhaps indicating a preference for practical gifts OR people expecting to entertain more or attend more parties (I like the second reason). Electronics and Gift Cards both remain popular gifts as well and are tied for the #5 at 28%.

Stay tuned for the release of our full study on December 1. Happy Shopping!