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The Biggest Holiday Spending Day? Christmas Eve

Last-minute shoppers flocked to stores on Christmas Eve

January 27, 2015

Black Friday’s status as a banner holiday shopping day took a serious hit last year, as it took a backseat to a longer promotions season (one that started well before Thanksgiving) and, according to First Data SpendTrend, Christmas Eve may have actually been the busiest spending day of the year.

First Data found, from looking at card-based transactions at over 400,000 US retail merchants from the period spanning November 1, 2014, to January 4, 2015, that nine out of the 10 of the top spending days occurred in December. Measuring dollars alone, Christmas Eve was the biggest spending day, with December 23 coming in at a close second.

These shoppers were last-minute buyers—those who had received unexpected gifts from people they hadn’t budgeted for, or those who didn’t have enough time or money earlier in the holiday shopping season to check off gifts on their lists. A survey from Retale found that 15% of all holiday shoppers waited until the last minute to shop for gifts. So when Christmas Eve rolled around, these shoppers hustled to stores to make sure they had all of their bases covered. It also helped that people are unusually generous on Christmas Eve.

While these shoppers may have scrambled for last-minute gifts, though, retail foot traffic was strongest on December 21, the Sunday before Christmas, noted First Data. Christmas Eve had the second-largest number of transactions in-store.

Many of these last-minute buys were aided by mobile technology (a sizeable 58%, said Retale), as procrastinators researched—to check prices and availability—before making the trip to a retail store. Just as they do year-round, mobile devices aided last-minute shoppers in preparing themselves in advance, uncovering last-minute deals and promotions or store hours and locations.

Overall, the average retail ticket from November 1, 2014, to January 4, 2015, came in at $72.55, according to First Data, and several states in the Midwest and on the West Coast saw healthy growth over the holiday shopping season: Minnesota had the highest retail dollar volume growth out of all 50 states (12.88%), followed by Oregon in the Pacific Northwest (7.4%), and Missouri (7.15%).

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