How Customers Shop for the Holidays

Local shoppers get a jump on the festive season, with almost 30% shopping earlier than last year and 55% starting before December.


More than half (59%) of consumers in Australia and New Zealand plan to start their festive season shopping before December and almost 20% started as early September, according to the new Holiday Spending Season report from Klarna, the leading global retail bank, payments and shopping service. Based on surveys of almost 5,000 shoppers in Australia and New Zealand and Klarna’s proprietary shopping data, the report also found that 29% of shoppers are starting earlier than last year, with 43% planning to head in-store for the majority of their shopping.

Nearly two-thirds (61%) of shoppers cite a desire to take advantage of holiday sales as the main reason for getting a headstart on their gift purchasing this year. However, amid reports of supply chain issues across the country causing potential headaches for retailers, almost half (48%) are starting earlier to avoid shipping delays, while others want to ensure product availability (38%).

The report found that Black Friday will remain an important date this season, with 44% of shoppers planning to purchase during these sales, particularly Gen Z (71%) and Millennial (67%) shoppers. And despite the growth in online shopping over the last two years, almost half of shoppers (43%) plan to shop primarily in-store this season, while one-fifth (23%) will shop as much in-store as online.

“Regardless of how they shop, 80% of shoppers expect a seamless, connected online and offline experience, highlighting the importance for retailers to embrace an omni-channel approach. Click and collect and curbside pick up options surged during lockdowns across Australia and New Zealand, but are expected to remain popular with shoppers this festive season and beyond,” said Mathew Hosking, Klarna’s Head of Partner Success for ANZ.

“As a significant percentage of consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping early this year, brands should take note that this group plans to spend 11% more, on average, than those who start shopping later,” said Hosking. “It’s also worth noting that shoppers are more likely to opt for interest-free options at checkout, with 54% planning to use debit over credit (48%), and almost half (47%) looking for flexible payment options like Klarna’s Pay in 4 solution, which help people spread out the cost of the holiday season and give them more control over their budget during this busy period,” said Hosking.

In a surprising find, the report showed that the majority of shoppers (57%) would rather receive a gift card than a physical gift, but that most (61%) would prefer to give a physical gift.

“Contrary to the common perception of gift cards as being impersonal, it seems many consumers would be thrilled to receive one. Retailers should consider exploring new ways to package and share gift cards so that giving them and opening them feels like more of an experience,” said Hosking.

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  • Digital shoppers have bigger budgets. Shoppers who plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping online also have more to spend this holiday season. Those shopping ‘mostly online’ plan to spend 12% more, on average, than those who are shopping in-store.
  • Black Friday does digital. While Black Friday bargain-hunting traditionally centred around physical retail and those infamous “door-buster” deals, 63% of shoppers say they’ll make the majority of their Black Friday purchases online, compared to 25% who will shop mostly in-store. Just 12% plan to buy online and in-store equally.
  • Big-box retailers, department stores and shopping centres are still beloved by shoppers. Big-box retailers (55%) are the most popular place to shop this holiday season, followed by shopping centres/malls (41%) and department stores (39%), while almost a third of shoppers (29%) plan to shop with small businesses. Gen Zers (53%) are more likely than all other age groups (Millennials: 43%, Gen Xers: 42%, Baby Boomers: 37%) to hit shopping centres this festive season.
  • Doing good is great for business. 53% of Gen Z and 58% of Millennials seek out and are more likely to purchase from brands with a charitable or give-back mission. Environment is also an important consideration; Young shoppers (69% of Gen Z and 68% Millennials) actively look for brands with a sustainable and ethical mission, and 69% of shoppers from these generations prefer eco-friendly gift wrap options too.
  • Younger consumers are choosing smarter payment options. Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen Xers are more likely to pay for gifts with debit (61%) over credit (39%), and the majority also are looking for flexible payments (Gen Z: 59%, Millennials: 65%, Gen X: 49%).
  • A great omni-channel experience means high-touch customer service. 75% of shoppers say that helpful customer service and knowledgeable sales associates are critical to ensuring a stand-out shopping experience.
  • Shoppertainment stands out among younger audiences. 54% of Gen Z and Millennials say that they’re interested in checking out livestream shopping events, compared to 31% of Gen X and 12% of Baby Boomers. 36% of Gen Z and 46% of Millennials are also excited to shop for holiday gifts via T-commerce this holiday season.
  • Social media drives discovery and purchasing decisions. The vast majority of younger shoppers–61% Gen Z and 64% of Millennials–say they have purchased a product after seeing it on social media. The power of these platforms extends to older audiences as well, with 42% of Gen Xers and 25% of Baby Boomers noting that they’ve been influenced by their feeds.
  • Electronics is the most popular shopping category during holiday sales days. Compared to the average November day, Klarna saw sales of electronics surge by 651% on Black Friday, 158% on Cyber Monday, and 264% during Black Week last year.
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The findings in Klarna’s Holiday Spending Season report are based on survey results and insights from Klarna’s proprietary shopping data. We analyzed:

  • The results of a survey of 2,912 Australian and New Zealand Klarna users ages 18-66+, fielded in August 2021. Definitions of each age group are Gen Z (18-24); Millennials (25-40); Gen X (41-56); Boomers (57-66).
  • The results of a survey of 2,074 consumers ages 18-66+, fielded August 2021, conducted by the research agency Dynata. Definitions of each age group are Gen Z (18-24); Millennials (25-40); Gen X (41-56); Boomers (57-66).
  • Klarna shopping data from online purchases in Australia and New Zealand during November and December 2020.


About Klarna

With over 90 million global active users and 2 million transactions a day, Klarna is meeting the changing demands of consumers who want to shop, pay and bank on one intuitive platform and with one trusted brand. Over 250,000 global retail partners, including H&M, Saks, Sephora, Macys, IKEA, Expedia Group, Samsung, ASOS, Peloton, Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch, Nike and Shein have enabled Klarna’s innovative shopping experience online and in-store. Klarna is one of the most highly valued private fintechs globally with a valuation of $45.6 billion. Klarna was founded in 2005, has over 4,000 employees and is active in 18 markets. Klarna has been backed by Sequoia Capital since 2010 and more recently, SilverLake, Dragoneer, Bestseller Group, Permira, Ant Group, HMI Capital, TCV, NorthZone, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Merian Chrysalis Investment Company Limited, funds and accounts managed by BlackRock amongst others.