Holiday shopping season underway but big consumer wave hasn't hit just yet
Retailer Shopping Experience

18 September 2015

The retail holiday season is underway, with 32 million shoppers on the prowl for gifts and 5 million proudly boasting all their gift buying is completed, according to a new survey.

While many consumers are enjoying the last few weeks of warm summer weather and hitting the beach and golf clubs and not the malls and retail strips, a poll reveals 14 percent of consumers have the holiday shopping in motion and about 2 percent are already done.

The good news for retailers who haven’t yet geared up for the big holiday sales push is that more than half, 55 percent, won’t be anywhere near done until into December and 1 in 5 won’t be done until Christmas Eve.

Of those polled, 15 percent said they do intend to get an earlier start this year, while 4 percent expect to start later than they did last year.

Here's what else the poll uncovered about early shoppers:

    Online shoppers in particular have gotten a holiday head start, as 18 percent of respondents who said they mainly shop online have begun filling their digital carts, compared to 14 percent of those who prefer in-store shopping.

    Grandma and Grandpa are furthest ahead of the holiday crowds, as 7 percent of consumers over the age of 65 say they have already finished holiday shopping. No other age group had more than 1 percent say they're all done.

    Nearly 1 in 4 shoppers (23 percent) say they will finish holiday shopping by the end of November.

Americans are expected to spend approximately $886 billion on holiday shopping this year, according to eMarketer. More than half, 60 percent, plan to hit brick-and-mortar retail stores, 23 percent will spend most holiday shopping time on line and 7 percent expect to be using a mobile device as their main shopping method. Just 2 percent will rely on mail order catalogs.

"Last-minute shoppers are not able to do the comparison shopping the early shoppers can do," said Kathleen Gurney, CEO of Financial Psychology Corp, in an announcement on the survey.

According to the research, consumers’ shopping behavior has triggered some changes by retailers, with promotions starting at least two weeks earlier in the past five years.

"What traditionally was held on Black Friday or Cyber Monday is now being held weeks, and even months, before the holidays," said Andrew Johnson, communications manager for financial counseling organization GreenPath Financial Wellness, in the announcement. "It certainly could be to your advantage to start looking now."