While online shopping has erased geographic barriers for many consumers, there are holiday shopping behaviors that differ between urban and rural consumers, as revealed through research by the NPD Group.

Urban consumers in the U.S. plan to spend a third more on their holiday shopping this year than those in rural areas, and rural consumers are most likely to buy some of the key categories of the season, according to insights from NPD’s 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey. 

“The growth in online shopping has increased the importance of understanding how a consumer’s location impacts their shopping behaviors,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor, The NPD Group. “Retailers need to understand how behaviors between rural and urban shoppers differ in order to reach each of these shoppers with relevant marketing messages, especially throughout the competitive holiday shopping season.”

Urban consumers plan to spend $843 this holiday season, which is more than the $736 planned by those who live in suburban areas or the $636 indicated by consumers in rural areas. City-dwellers are more likely to buy online and pick-up in-store – 28 percent plan to take advantage of BOPUS options – and have packages delivered to a locker or inside their home. They are also more likely to buy electronics and care about social, environmental or political issues.

Meanwhile, holiday shoppers in rural areas of the U.S. plan to spend the least, but they are more likely to buy toys (41 percent) and products related to entertainment (43 percent) and the home (36 percent). These consumers are not influenced by a retailer’s or manufacturer’s position on issues.

Holiday shoppers in suburban areas are the least polarized, but they are also the least likely to use social media for research – only 15 percent. But despite regional differences, the NPD Group found 75 percent of holiday shoppers plan to buy something online.