Retailers Expect Holiday Shopping Shortages, Higher Prices

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First Insight and Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center study finds that 100% of retail execs agree supply chain disruptions will affect sales, prices, and promotions

Pittsburgh, PA—October 28, 2021—Despite September’s better-than-anticipated retail sales numbers, trouble could be on the horizon. Top retail executives have indicated that consumers should expect holiday shopping to be affected by supply chain disruptions and inflation, according to a new survey by First Insight and the Baker Retailing Center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Fully 100 percent of the senior executives surveyed agree that disruptions will mark the upcoming holiday shopping season, and nearly all (98 percent) agree that supply chain issues will continue impacting the retail sector through 2022 and beyond.

Increased cost of goods and shipping are being handled by retailers in various ways with some trying to mitigate the supply chain costs as we head into the holidays. “Over a third of retailers are absorbing the hit and keeping prices consistent; however, an astounding 59 percent of retailers said they will be passing on the cost to consumers. For this holiday season, we anticipate that consumers are going to bear the brunt of this disruption through increased shipping and product prices,” says Professor Thomas Robertson, Academic Director of Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center.

Greg Petro, CEO of First Insight, said, “Consumers have been conditioned to expect wide availability and lower prices starting with Black Friday and extending through to post-holiday sales. Our research indicates that this year will be decidedly different, and consumers should plan to shop early to avoid disappointment and expect to pay more. Smart retailers and brands are safeguarding margins by optimizing their pricing and promotions based on real-time Voice-of-Customer-data.”

Consumers can expect fewer sales and promotions this holiday season, with 22 percent of retailers saying that they will eliminate or reduce planned promotions in response to lower inventories and higher prices. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds of retailers anticipate a margin hit of less than 10 percent.

First Insight's findings are based on a survey conducted in partnership with the Baker Retailing Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The executive survey was based on a sample of 51 retail senior-level business executives (C-suite, EVP/SVP, Vice President, and Director roles), from Wharton’s Baker Retailing Center boards and network and was fielded in October 2021. Further details on the findings are available upon request.

Learn more and view the infographic here.

About First Insight, Inc.
First Insight is one of the world’s leading Experience Management (XM) platforms that empowers companies to significantly incorporate the Voice of the Customer into the design, pricing, planning and marketing of products and service offerings. Through the use of online consumer management tools, the First Insight platform gathers real-time consumer data and applies predictive analytic models to create actionable insights to power decisions which drive measurable value. Customers include some of the world’s leading vertically integrated brands, sporting goods companies, department stores, consumer products companies, mass merchant retailers and wholesalers. For further information, please visit

About Baker Retailing Center at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania
The Jay H. Baker Retailing Center is an industry research center at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. The Center develops insights, through programs and resources, with our faculty, students, and industry leaders that influences industry research and encourages discussion on trending retail topics. Our faculty are world-renowned researchers, and our board members are globally recognized omnichannel and direct to consumer brands and retailers. The center was established in 2002 through a generous gift from Jay and Patty Baker. Jay Baker, former President and Director of the Kohl’s Corporation, is a 1956 graduate of the Wharton School. Learn more about the
Wharton/Baker Retailing Center.

Media Contact:
Berns Communications Group
Stacy Berns/Michael McMullan / 

First Insight Contact:
Gretchen Jezerc
SVP of Marketing

Baker Retailing Center Contact:
Mina Fader
Managing Director

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