LOS ANGELES — Residents in Los Angeles and Orange County are expected to shop early and spend more money this holiday season, a year after many families sat out due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Deloitte's annual holiday retail survey released earlier this week found consumers in the Los Angeles metropolitan statistical area, including Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim, are planning to spend an average of more than $2,000 this holiday shopping season.
The whopping spending number is an increase of 63% year over year and up 35% from pre-pandemic 2019. According to Deloitte, the national average holiday spending this year is $1,400.
"For LA, in particular, we're seeing a significant increase in the amount of expected spending for the current year, and it is substantially higher than the rest of the country," said Summer Taylor, the managing director of the retail industry for Deloitte, in an interview with Spectrum News. "When you take a look at the historical survey, LA did pull back on their spending, more than the rest of the nation last year, so I think what we're seeing is some delayed purchasing that's moving from the 2020 holiday season and into the 2021 holiday season. It should be a very good year for retailers this year."
The survey comes a month before the holiday shopping season kicks off and provides a snapshot of how consumers adjust their lives and shopping behavior amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Deloitte conducted the online survey for a week in September with more than 4,000 people participating nationwide, including 500 in the Los Angeles MSA region.
Last year, many people sat out the holidays due to fears of catching COVID-19 or encountered limited business hours and store closures. But consumer sentiment is up this time around, and many are planning to gather this holiday season.
In LA, more than three-quarters of people surveyed said their household finances are the same or better than the previous year and are bullish that the economy will continue to improve into the new year, Deloitte reported.
According to Deloitte, the convenience of shopping online is here to stay.
LA consumers surveyed said they plan to shop mostly online and have items delivered to their door. If they do venture out to a brick-and-mortar location, consumers will visit an average of nine stores.
"Shop online, buy online and pick up in-store — this is the new norm in retail," said Taylor.
Taylor said the survey found that shoppers are still apprehensive and concerned about their safety when visiting a brick-and-mortar retail store. About 41% of respondents said they are anxious about shopping in the store due to COVID-19.
However, the increasing number of vaccinated residents throughout the year have eased some shoppers' concern. According to the LA Times, as of Oct. 22, about 69% of LA and Orange County residents have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
"The availability of the vaccine and boosters have had a positive impact on safety concerns of people leaving their houses and going out to shop," said Taylor.
LA shoppers plan to spend their money on the top five categories: clothing and accessories, electronics, food and beverage, home goods and health and wellness.
One Grinch this holiday season is the growing supply chain issue, forcing consumers to shop early.
More than 63% of LA consumers surveyed said they are shopping early — before Thanksgiving — to ensure they receive the items on their wish list. About 41% have already started shopping in October for the Christmas holiday.
While middle-income and high-end earners have a merry outlook this holiday season, low-income — those with a household income of $50,000 or less — are sitting this shopping season out, Deloitte reported.
The K-shaped economic recovery due to the economic fallout from the pandemic struck low-income earners the hardest. Middle and high-income earners were able to survive and, in some cases, thrive during the pandemic. However, many low-wage employees in the retail, service, hospitality and leisure industries suffered with many still out of work and dealing with other fallouts.
According to Deloitte, concerns of inflation, higher cost of food and low earnings will have 34% of low-income earners sit out this holiday season.
"When you look at the data, it is a tale of two shoppers," said Taylor.
Still, this holiday season could serve as a bellwether for the retail industry's recovery, consumers' sentiment and the economy heading into the new year.