Twenty-eight percent of consumers are making their first holiday purchase sooner than last year, and 34% are looking for deals earlier in the season, according to a new survey by online savings platform RetailMeNot.
Shoppers started preparing for holiday gift-giving as early as July: 70% of respondents who shopped on Amazon Prime Day purchased a holiday gift. "Shoppers are getting savvier every year when it comes to holiday preparation," Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert for RetailMeNot, said in a company release. "They are deal hunting, comparison shopping, and they're choosing not to spend all their holiday budget solely in November and December."
Seventy-five percent of respondents will shop online this holiday season, versus 68% last year. About 45% of Black Friday shoppers will complete the majority of their shopping online this year.
According to RetailMeNot, the shorter holiday season may influence shoppers this year: Last year, there were 32 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, while this year, there are 26. Fourteen percent of the survey respondents said the shortened time period between the two holidays is making them stressed about completing their shopping on time.
In addition, respondents said they don't plan to spend as much money on gifts as they did in previous years, which could be driving their desire to score the best deals far in advance. September retail sales were down, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week, for the first time in seven months. That report doesn't bode well for retailers in Q4.
Anticipated spending amounts from the RetailMeNot sample, while lower than last year, line up with other surveys, indicating an overall positive holiday season for retailers. Shoppers plan to spend $738 this year, compared to $803 last year. The most optimistic of reports have holiday sales growth exceeding 5%, but at the same time, consumer credit card debt reached a remarkably high rate earlier this year. Only time will tell if consumer confidence is still on the upswing, or if retailers will end up with a holiday spending hangover.