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IBM report sees potential rebound for travel, event spending

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With the mass inoculation of their citizens, some countries are opening up their borders to foreign travelers, still with additional health security measures. The latest consumer study released by IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) sees a much brighter travel and event spending this year compared to 2020.

According to the survey, travel is predicted to account for a larger portion of the holiday budgets overall for those surveyed, rising to 8.2% from 5.7% in 2020. Though still lower than it was in 2019, almost 40% of respondents said they plan to travel to see family and friends over the holidays, up from 28% last year. Travel budgets are also on the rebound, up 43% over 2020, with international lodging and air travel budgets growing more than domestic air travel and lodging budgets for those surveyed. Local outings and activities, as well as dining out, may see the biggest lift in 2021 with consumers surveyed planning to spend 30% more in this area than they did last year.

However, with COVID-19 breakouts still happening around the globe, the traditional shopping season is yet to resume.

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The report reveals that almost 3 in 4 respondents said they are concerned about new variants of COVID-19, 3 in 5 said they are concerned about interacting with unvaccinated people outside of their families and more than half of those surveyed said they are worried about spending time with unvaccinated family and friends.

Online shopping to continue rise

“Based on the survey findings, consumer respondents may continue to demand safety requirements for in-person activities, as well as modern-day fulfillment models such as contactless pick-up, same-day delivery; ship-from-store; buy online, pick up in-store, etc.,” said Jonathan Wright, managing partner and global VP for Supply Chain Consulting, IBM Consulting. “Deploying artificial intelligence, intelligent automation, and analytics across an enterprise can build a more adaptable business that can rapidly respond, pivot, and scale up or down, which may be a pivotal enabler when it comes to this holiday shopping season.”

IBM said holiday shopping budgets are still 13% lower than they were in 2019 however, they did increase 30% year-over-year, and 87% of surveyed consumers say they may shop for the holidays this year, up six points compared to 2020.  

According to IBM, online shopping is likely to hold on to its leadership position this holiday season for those surveyed. 

“This statistic is noteworthy when compared to February 2021 IBV data which found that 73% of surveyed shoppers wanted and expected to return to shopping malls and shopping centers after they were vaccinated,” IBM said. “Instead, 43% of consumers surveyed say they plan to buy products online and just 36% surveyed say they plan to buy products in a physical store, citing the increasing concern about new COVID-19 outbreaks and variants.”