When Do US Consumers Shop for the Holidays? - eMarketer
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When Do US Consumers Shop for the Holidays?

Large shares of shoppers have yet to begin buying holiday gifts

November 11, 2016 | Retail & Ecommerce

According to one April survey, October is a holiday shopping tipping point: By the end of October, more than half of holiday shoppers have already begun buying gifts.

Time of Year When US Internet Users Plan to Begin Holiday Shopping, Oct 2016 (% of respondents)

But October polling from the National Retail Federation suggests that more shoppers may have yet to get started. The survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, found that about 40% of US internet users ages 18 and up had already begun their holiday shopping by the end of October. Just as many will begin buying gifts this month, with another 20% waiting until December to begin shopping.

According to September polling by SessionM, about half (48.1%) of internet users planned to have started their holiday shopping by the end of October. More than a third (35.6%) planned to begin in November, including 8.9% who would start on Black Friday.

A survey from Alix Partners, also from September, found a pattern similar to the one in the NRF research: 38% of internet users said they would be under way by Halloween, and another 32% would start by Thanksgiving.

Month When US Consumers Begin Purchasing Holiday Gifts, 2010-2016 (% of respondents)

According to RichRelevance research from August, the older the shopper, the more likely to start early. Nearly a third of US internet users ages 60 and older said they had already begun shopping at that point, or that they shopped for the holidays throughout the year, compared with 19.4% of 18- to 29-year-olds. Still, the largest share of shoppers in all age groups waited until Thanksgiving.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) also found a late tilt to holiday shopping—and getting later. Just a quarter of consumers would start shopping before November this year, down from 34% in 2010. And slightly more than a quarter of those surveyed this year planned to wait until December to shop for the holidays.

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