The economy, consumer confidence and even the weather can all affect holiday shopping. But this year there's another important factor at play—because of a late Thanksgiving, there's almost one week less between Black Friday and Christmas than in 2018. So, what can we expect among shoppers and retailers now that we're in the home stretch of the shortest holiday shopping season since 2013?
Shoppers and Retailers Respond to Time Crunch
Many consumers (47%) got an early start on their holiday shopping during Amazon's Prime Week. And almost nine out of 10 anticipated shopping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.
But that doesn't mean that most people have all of their gifts purchased and neatly wrapped now that it's December. In a survey by RetailMeNot, more than two out of three (68%) consumers said the season's shorter time frame would affect their shopping. And 15% said they would be more stressed about getting their shopping done on time.
Marketers have sounded the alarm as well, and nearly all retailers are responding to the shorter season. They're using their advertising to remind shoppers of the time crunch (44%) and even offering deeper discounts (55%).
80% of Shoppers Will Visit Physical Stores
Another sign that shoppers might be going down to the wire on their holiday purchases? They're planning plenty of visits to physical stores in December. Four out of five plan to shop for gifts at brick-and-mortar stores this month, making an average of five visits.
The physical stores they are choosing point to a desire for convenience and one-stop shopping. For example, 71% plan to make a purchase at big-box stores, and 50% said they would visit department stores.
Retailers Improve Shipping to Stay Competitive
The shorter shopping season is also putting a time crunch on online shopping as consumers face extra pressure on shipping deadlines to get gifts delivered by Christmas eve. Consumers already had high expectations around fast and free shipping, and with less time to shop, shipping becomes even more important. In fact, 16% of shoppers said that, because of the shorter season, they planned to shop more often with retailers that offer expedited shipping.
Almost all retailers (96%) planned to change their shipping tactics this holiday season to stay competitive with online powerhouses like Amazon and Target. For shoppers, this means low minimum spend thresholds for free shipping the two weeks before Christmas.
BOPIS Continues to Expand
Consumers have more opportunities to combine the best of online and brick-and-mortar shopping this year, which could help with some of that stress caused by the shorter shopping season. Buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS) options continue to gain popularity, with six in ten retailers offering BOPIS this year. That's up from 52% in 2018.
And shoppers are responding positively with almost nine out of 10 (85%) consumers motivated to use BOPIS options. What's driving that interest? Consumers want to make shopping more convenient, save money, reduce their shipping costs and take advantage of more online deals.
For more on what to expect during the rest of the 2019 holiday shopping season, visit RetailMeNot's Holiday Insights Hub.