Three Out of Four Consumers Plagued With Holiday Gift Giving Stress

Only 12 Percent of Consumers Trust Sales Associates' Advice When Searching for the Right Gift During the Holidays

San Francisco, California, UNITED STATES

SILICON SLOPES, UT--(Marketwired - Nov 19, 2015) - In the notoriously busy holiday season, a newly discovered culprit is tipping the stress scale: gift giving. New research from Needle, the leader in advocate-powered e-commerce, reveals that gift shopping now outranks family obligations and holiday travel in raising our collective blood pressure this holiday season.

The national consumer survey reveals that significant others are the most difficult to buy for, and shoppers are facing growing frustrations as volumes of content, online reviews and traditional customer service associates fail to provide adequate support. In fact, 69 percent of consumers are most likely to trust gift advice from someone who owns or uses the product rather than a sales associate (trusted by only 12 percent), sounding a wake-up call for retailers: connect shoppers with more authentic and knowledgeable experts to find the perfect gift.

Top highlights of the Needle study include:

  • Gifting tips the stress scale. The vast majority of consumers (84 percent) state that gift giving causes stress, and while traditional life stressors such as moving and wedding planning still rank top of the list for life's biggest stressors, the holiday season has quickly worked its way up to one of the most stressful life events.
  • Gift buying is a holiday headache. Finding and purchasing the right gifts for everyone on their list stresses consumers (79 percent) more than traveling during the holidays (26 percent) and spending time with extended family (31 percent).
  • When the shopping gets tough, the tough get online. Forty-three percent of respondents plan to purchase more than half of their gifts online this holiday season.
  • Shoppers are opting for gift card convenience. Half of respondents (49 percent) are willing to buy gift cards as holiday gifts because they are the "easy" option.

E-commerce: Help Or Hindrance?
According to the survey, almost half (49 percent) of the respondents plan to purchase their gifts online just weeks or less from the major holidays, and, some, even one to two days before the holiday. Yet, while e-commerce powers quick, easy purchases void of long wait lines and traffic, online consumers' expectations are rising, requiring retailers to raise the bar. 

Needle's study also found one in four consumers has already begun to distrust online product reviews, signifying their desire for trustworthy guidance. In addition, shoppers feel lost in the online aisles. One of the biggest frustrations that online shoppers report (29 percent) is having too many options, and 24 percent said that there is confusing or not enough product details to pinpoint the best-fit gift. Additionally, 22 percent of online consumers truly miss the personalized in-store experience that comes from a live sales associate.

"We all struggle with gift buying sometimes. Having more and more static information isn't the answer," said Morgan Lynch, founder and CEO of Needle. "We as consumers are looking for someone with expertise and personal experience to assess our situations, make recommendations that feel right and boost our confidence in purchases. Product owners and experts are intrinsically motivated to create this type of experience for shoppers, and especially for gift buyers who desire authentic and genuine conversation."

Do Husbands Still Hunt? Do Wives Need Knives? The Gift Buying Conundrum
Partners know what their counterparts want, right? Wrong, especially when they have to navigate through millions of virtual store aisles. While 59 percent report finding a gift for their significant other as extremely important, one in four consumers report they have zero confidence when it comes to selecting the right gift, and e-commerce isn't making it any easier. Needle's study found that husbands are the hardest to shop for, followed closely by wives. This sentiment is especially true when it comes to electronics and gadgets, which ranked as the most difficult items to shop for (27 percent).

Fortunately, most things improve with time. The older consumers are, the less stress they feel about buying the right gift. One in four baby boomers and one in four senior citizens reported not feeling high stress when finding the right or best gifts for everyone on their list, compared to more than double the number of millennials who reported feeling high stress when finding the right gifts.

What Does Your Location Say About Your Gifting Giving Style?
While the survey shows that gift giving is a challenge across the country, it highlights that gift giving practices appear to vary by location and regional differences. For example, Northeasterners are reported as the most thoughtful gift givers, compared to Midwesterners who categorize their gift giving style as more frugal than any other region. And practicality? Southwesterners take the cake. Retailers should factor these regional variations into how they promote and personalize the gift shopping experience for their respective shoppers.

View the infographic on this data: "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Stress-mass."

Needle polled 1,246 individuals via an online survey between October 27, 2015, and October 30, 2015. The margin of error is +/- 5.00 percentage points.

About Needle
Needle, the leader in advocate-powered e-commerce, strives to make online shopping more personal and trusted. Founded in 2010, Needle provides a marketing platform that enables online retailers to leverage their most passionate fans and connect them with their customers. The result is a truly awesome customer experience that builds trust and increases satisfaction with customers while delivering high-quality traffic, net new sales, and better online experiences. For more information, visit or send us a note at

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Jenna Cason
Head of Corporate Communications