Consumers have started their holiday shopping well in advance of the season, according to a survey from e-commerce platform Profitero. Forty-five percent of respondents said they planned to start holiday shopping before November, and 25% said they started in September.
Forty-one percent of respondents said they plan to spend the most online in November, with 16% planning to do their online shopping in December. Profitero surveyed 1,000 U.S. consumers.
Twenty-eight percent of people plan to shop online for gifts during Black Friday and Cyber Monday/Cyber Week, which Profitero refers to as the Cyber Five. But the largest group of respondents, 31%, said they aren't sure when they'll shop (or they don't plan to shop for gifts).
Part of consumers' indecision around their holiday shopping timing may be due to lingering uncertainties about how trade tensions could impact their costs.
The Profitero survey was conducted before President Donald Trump called off the latest round of tariff hikes scheduled for Oct. 15, which would have bumped the rate from 25% to 30% on $250 billion in Chinese imports. Of the survey respondents, 60% said they were "very or mildly concerned" that U.S.-China relations could impact holiday shopping prices, but only 19% were concerned enough to start doing their holiday shopping early. Twenty-five percent of people said they aren't concerned and they don't plan to alter their holiday shopping plans.
As the holiday shopping season spreads out on either side of the traditional Black Friday festivities, retailers have an opportunity to attract shoppers during "down days," according to Profitero. But that also creates pressure to correctly allocate inventory to serve customers for a longer time period rather than just a few hectic days.
Target, for one, announced it would double the number of employees dedicated to fulfillment, along with making "hundreds of thousands of items" available for free shipping. The company said it would spend almost $50 million more than it did last year on payroll to make the increased staffing possible. Best Buy last week announced it would offer free next-day shipping on orders of $35 or more. However, the big-box retailer announced some large and heavy items would be excluded, and delivery limitations may apply during the week of Thanksgiving and on Sundays. The move, though, could nudge customers into ordering those items outside of the peak window in search of convenience over promotional savings.