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 their rural counterparts, according to the NPD Group. In contrast, rural consumers are the most likely to buy from some of the season’s key categories. Nonetheless, shopper location plays a significant role in influencing consumers’ responses to major holiday shopping events.
“The growth in online shopping has increased the importance of understanding how a consumer’s location impacts their shopping behaviors,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at 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.”
Urban consumers will buy online and pick up in store
Urban consumers plan to spend $843 this holiday season, which is more than the $736 suburban residents expect to shop with and the $636 rural consumers anticipate on spending. These city-dwellers are more likely to buy online and pick-up in-store — 28% plan to take advantage of buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) options. 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 home (36%). These consumers are not influenced by a retailer’s or manufacturer’s position on issues.
The suburbs 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.