August 2023 Consumer Shopping Trends

With a shifted focus on self-care, vinyl, sketch drawing and more, Shopify released the latest consumer trends from August 2023 that the company extracted from their platform’s sales data.

They’ve got a little bit of everything, including increases on purchases of cat litter (up 286% since last year), an increase in purchases of tennis equipment on the heels of Coco Gauff’s win at the U.S. Open (up 221.5% since last year) and a host of other trends, from pencil cases to holiday shopping. 

Here is a breakdown of Shopify’s findings:

Cats vs Dogs

While “pandemic puppies” were all the rage during lockdown, cats are currently having their moment. In fact, according to the World Animal Foundation, cats are almost twice as popular as dogs, with over two million cats being adopted yearly compared to just over one million dogs. 

Today, 46.5 million households in the U.S. own a cat, and it shows in their spending habits. According to Shopify, cat-related supplies and accessories saw a jump in sales year-over-year (YoY) from August 2022 vs. August 2023. Notably, cat litter saw an increase of 286%, and cat beds were up 270.1%.

Pencil Cases Gain Popularity

Our tech-enabled world has generated an appreciation for simpler times, driving the popularity of bullet journaling, adult coloring books and writing and drawing by hand. Interest in sketch drawing alone increased by 40% over the past year. 

With more interest in quality pens, pencils, markers and other writing tools, the demand for pencil cases to keep all those instruments safe and organized has been on the rise. Based on Shopify shopping trends, the pen- and pencil-case category has seen a growth in sales of 147.3% YoY from August 2022 to August 2023.

Take a Load Off

With growing awareness of the importance of self-care and wellness, people are increasingly turning to massage therapy not only for relaxation, but also for stress relief, pain management and improved sleep. In fact, the massage therapy services market reached $54.6 billion in 2022 and is estimated to continue growing at a rate of 8.6%. 

Enjoyment of massage therapists is also projected to grow, with estimates stating an 18% increase from 2022 to 2032, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Increase in demand for massage services is on the rise, with sales of massage tables increasing 93.1% month-over-month (MoM) from July to August 2023, based on the latest Shopify data.

The Resurgence of Vinyl

Although streaming continues to be the biggest driver of growth in the music industry, vinyl sales were up 21.7% for the first half of 2023. 2022 marked the 16th consecutive year of growth for vinyl records, with sales outpacing CDs for the first time since 1987. 

Demand for vinyl is being fueled by concerts and releases by artists including Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Lewis Capaldi and Harry Styles. In line with this growing trend, Shopify noted a 91.6% increase in Records and LP sales MoM from July to August 2023 and a 214.9% increase YoY from August 2022 to August 2023. 

Coco Gauff and Tennis on the Rise

Early in September, Coco Gauff won her first grand slam, making her the youngest American to win a major tournament since Serena Williams won the U.S. Open at 17 in 1999. Excitement about the U.S. Open is seen in consumer purchasing habits, with a 221.5% increase in tennis racquet sales from August 2022 to 2023 and a 19.4% increase just from July to August, based on the latest Shopify purchasing data.

Holiday Shopping Creeps Earlier

Each year, it seems like the holidays start earlier and earlier. In a phenomenon known as ‘holiday creep,’ retailers are kicking off the holiday season earlier than ever. Halloween Spirit, a leading Halloween costume store, began opening its 1,500 pop-up shops in late July 2023

Predictions for most popular holiday costumes started at least four months before Halloween, with Barbie leading the pack. Shopify reports that sales of costumes were up nearly 80% from July to August 2023.

The Early Bird Gets the Deal

And it seems the ‘creep’ is not just for Halloween. According to Insider Intelligence, 50% of consumers expect to start their holiday shopping before the calendar turns to November. 

The ever-growing convenience of online shopping, concerns about supply chain delays and shortages, challenging economic times driving a need to spread spending across months and ongoing uncertainties around the pandemic (store closures/concerns about crowds) are all reasons shoppers are getting a jump on purchasing. 

Shopping habits are undergoing a significant change, and the days of waiting for last-minute deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday appear to be a thing of the past, according to a report by Celigo. This early shopping prediction is backed by data from Shopify, which sites an increase in seasonal and holiday decoration purchases up 25.5% MoM between July and August 2023, and 30% YoY from August 2022 to August 2023. 

Methodology: Data is based on sales by Shopify merchants from July 2023 vs. August 2023 (or August 2022 vs August 2022).