College Student Holiday Shopper Trends

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College holiday shoppers are now headed back to campus to finish up their studies before winter break. Holiday shopping is expected to reach peak levels since the Great Recession, according to PwC’s 2016 Holiday Outlook. Digital and online shopping is predicted to grow by 25% – meaning businesses should emphasize creativity and strategy to attract college student shoppers. College students are already bombarded with news about different sales during the holiday season. The ones that make the biggest impact are ones that provide a seamlessly integrated experience. Here are some key findings from PwC’s Holiday 2016 Outlook:

  1. Bigger budgets

According to the survey, consumers are looking to spend about 10% more this year for the holidays. Whether a college student is looking to buy presents for the family, or vice versa, this means that they are willing to spend more money. Below is an info graphic on what gifts consumers want – with gift cards and experiential gifts as most popular.


  1. They want a painless checkout

College students are used to the quick and easy checkout provided by Amazon and other online retailers. Because they are used to a frictionless checkout online, they want a similar experience in-store. WiFi access is also an important feature in order to check product availability and prices. Lastly, a knowledgeable and friendly sales associate help wrap up the perfect shopping experience.

  1. convenient


  1. Mobile still rules

Business should boost their advertising campaigns online and on mobile. Retailers are anticipating a 25% increase in annual digital and mobile shopping. College students are embarking on a mobile quest for holiday shopping. They begin their journey by looking for products on their smartphone, following the brands on social media to monitor deals, and scout for sales before ultimately making a purchase.


These are three emerging trends to keep in mind when looking to target college student holiday shoppers. Physical and online retailers have lots of opportunities to market their product to college students. It is important to know what drives their purchase decisions, and where they are purchasing this holiday season.

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