Seeing Santa In The Store Makes Holiday Shopping Better
Dennis Armbruster

Seeing Santa in the store with children enhances the holiday shopping experience for nearly seven out of ten (66%) U.S. shoppers, according to our LoyaltyOne nationwide survey that provides timely data on the consumer mindset.

The survey results also indicate that Santa’s in-store future is safe in the hands of young millennials. Seventy-one percent of consumers age 18-24 said encountering Santa in the store enriches the holiday shopping experience. That exceeds the 66% score for the general population (18-65 and over) and rivals the 65-and-over age group (72%) for the highest score among all demographics surveyed.


But Santa takes a back seat to another venerable holiday tradition when it comes to putting cheer into the seasonal gift buying excursion. No less than 76% of all consumers said that hearing carols and other holiday music in the store enhances their Yuletide shopping trip.

Shoppers’ good tidings and cheer, however, do not mean they’re willing to cut retailers any slack when it comes to poor service. Just over seven out of ten consumers (72%) disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: I am more understanding if a salesperson is rude during the busy holiday sales season.

In fact, 81% of consumers agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: I am more offended if a sales person is rude at a time when he or she should value my business.

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Pricing is important but it’s not everything. This research underscores how critical it is for retailers to make the overall holiday shopping experience memorable and delightful. Results are illuminating, I think, for retailers who are unsure about the significance that consumers still attach to traditional elements of the holiday shopping experience, such as Santa and seasonal music.

Additionally, this research should dispel any notion that a customer’s encounter with a sales person is less of a high risk touch point during the holiday season hustle and bustle. Retailers that fail to address poor service during the holidays jeopardize customer loyalty and risk significant revenue losses.

Other highlights from this month’s survey of consumer attitudes reveal differences in millennial sentiments versus the general public on in-store holiday shopping:

  • At 78%, young millennials (18-24) scored higher than any other age group for appreciating in-store carols and seasonal music
  • 40% of young millennials and 31% of older millennials (25-34) said they had a poor shopping experience last year that ruined their holiday mood, versus 20% of the general population
  • Just 53% of young millennials said they disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: I am more understanding if a salesperson is rude during the holidays, compared to 72% of the general population
  • At 65%, older millennials were less patient with sales person rudeness than young millennials, but more patient than the general population
  • 42% of older millennials and 37% of young millennials said an encounter with a condescending sales person would prevent them from returning to a store for holiday shopping, versus 32% for the general population.

In other highlights from the in-store holiday shopping research:

  • Among the general population, 50% said an encounter with a sales person who took a “that’s not my department” attitude would prevent me from returning to a store, followed by 32% citing a condescending sales person, followed by 18% who said they would not return to a store after an encounter with a sales person who knew nothing about the item they were seeking
  • Nearly one in three consumers (29%) said that each holiday shopping season there is at least one store that loses their business due to a rude salesperson or poor service.

The survey results are based on an online survey in November 2015 of 1,267 American consumers. The margin of error is +/- 3% at the 90-95% confidence level.

Dennis Armbruster is Vice President of consulting services at LoyaltyOne.