Published Oct 2, 2023

Overcoming Holiday Shopping Challenges: Lessons from Past Years (2021-2022)



Celigo conducted a 2023 survey with 1000+ U.S. consumers. These respondents answered questions about how to meet consumers’ expectations. We have examined some of the survey’s top results: emerging price-conscious trends, spending habits, and strategies to elevate the 2023 shopping experience.

In this section, we explore these key challenges faced by consumers during the 2021 and 2022 holiday seasons and discuss strategies to overcome them for a smoother shopping experience in the upcoming holiday season.

You can get the full 2023 Holiday Shopper Survey here.

Holiday Shopping: 2023 Key Findings

U.S. shoppers faced key challenges when holiday shopping in previous years, 2021 and 2022.


  • 45% were frustrated by higher costs for in-demand products and a lack of in-stock merchandise.
  • 44% were frustrated by the late delivery of merchandise.
  • 25% were hindered by a poor shopping experience or difficulty navigating a website.

Overcoming Higher Costs and Limited Stock

A significant 45% of U.S. shoppers experienced frustration due to higher costs for in-demand products and a lack of in-stock merchandise. During the peak holiday shopping period, certain popular items often witness a surge in demand, leading to price hikes and scarcity.

Retailers can tackle this challenge by adopting the following strategies:

Early Inventory Planning: Anticipate consumer demand and plan your inventory well in advance. Identify trending products and ensure sufficient stock to meet customer needs.

Price Optimization: Implement dynamic pricing strategies that adjust prices based on demand and availability. Offer competitive deals and discounts to attract price-conscious shoppers.

Real-time Updates: Keep customers informed about product availability with real-time inventory updates on your website. Provide alerts when items are back in stock to create a sense of urgency.

Addressing Late Delivery Issues

Timely delivery is crucial for a positive shopping experience, especially when shoppers eagerly await holiday purchases. A notable 44% of surveyed shoppers were frustrated by late delivery of merchandise during the holiday season.

Retailers can improve delivery processes by considering the following:

Collaboration with Reliable Shipping Partners: Partner with reputable shipping carriers to ensure prompt and reliable delivery. Always communicate expected delivery dates clearly during the checkout process.

Offer Expedited Shipping Options: Provide customers with expedited shipping for last-minute purchases. Highlight cut-off dates for different shipping options to set realistic delivery expectations.

Order Tracking and Notifications: Enable order tracking functionalities and regularly update customers about their package status. This transparency builds trust and reduces anxiety about delayed deliveries.

Enhancing Shopping Experience: Improving Website Navigation

A smooth and user-friendly online shopping journey is vital for customer satisfaction. However, approximately 25% of consumers faced challenges related to a poor shopping experience and difficulty navigating websites.

Retailers can enhance the shopping experience by implementing the following measures:

Mobile Optimization: Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly and offers a seamless experience across various devices. Responsive design and easy navigation on smartphones are crucial for attracting mobile shoppers.

Simple Checkout Process: Streamline the checkout process with minimal steps and clear calls to action. Offer guest checkout options to reduce friction for first-time customers.

Intuitive Search and Filtering: Implement robust search functionality and intuitive product filtering options. Customers should be able to find products quickly and effortlessly.

Personalization: Leverage customer data to offer personalized product recommendations and tailored shopping experiences. Personalization can significantly enhance engagement and conversion rates.

Streamlined Returns Policy

Yor returns policy must be clear and friction-free, as 46% of shoppers say they will avoid an online retailer with a problematic returns policy.

To create confidence in shoppers, retailers should offer a hassle-free returns process, clearly communicating the steps and guidelines for returns. Simplifying the process and providing prepaid return labels can significantly affect customer satisfaction and post-purchase experiences.

Overcoming Holiday Shopping Challenges: Lessons from Past Years

By learning from the challenges faced in previous holiday seasons, U.S. retailers can proactively prepare for the upcoming holiday shopping rush. Addressing issues related to pricing, stock availability, delivery, website navigation, and shopping experience can create a positive impression among consumers and drive customer loyalty.

Embracing new strategies and integration-driven automation can help retailers overcome many of these challenges. Meet (and exceed) these expectations, secure a successful holiday season, and set the stage for continued growth and success in the competitive world of online retail.

Get the full 2023 Holiday Shopper Survey here.