Early October holiday promotions struck a chord with millions of Americans as 53.8 percent of shoppers say they have already started holiday shopping, according to the National Retail Federation’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Specifically, just 46.2 percent say they have yet to start, the smallest percent in the survey’s history.
“Shopping early has become a very real trend with consumers today as they look for ways to spread out their budget, and retailers have answered their call with attractive holiday offerings as early as October,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Holiday shoppers will have ample opportunities to find the perfect gift; whether online using free shipping or in store on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, given the competitive nature of the season, consumers will be the clear winners this year.”
With plans to spend slightly less than last year, consumers will shop for both value and price when checking items off their holiday lists. The most popular choice: clothing and clothing accessories. According to the survey, nearly six in 10 (60.7 percent) consumers will splurge on fashion and apparel items and other accessories. Granting their loved ones wishes, 59.2 percent of holiday shoppers will also splurge on gift cards, which have come in as the most-requested gift item for seven years in a row.
Additionally, 44.3 percent of people say they will buy toys, 23.3 percent will buy jewelry items, and 19.0 percent will buy sporting goods and leisure items.
New tablets and even smart watches will drive more people to give the gift of electronics this year: one-third (33.0 percent) will buy electronics and/or computer items and accessories, up from 31.8 percent last year and the highest percent seen since 2006.
“Even with smaller budgets this year, consumers will still splurge on popular discretionary-type gifts for their friends and family, but will shop around and compare prices as they’ve done for years,” said Prosper’s Consumer Insights Director Pam Goodfellow. “Looking for inspiration online and on their social media channels, many budget-conscious shoppers will also look for ways to surprise their loved ones with homemade and personal gifts.”
The survey also found shoppers prefer to use money they already have or have saved up to purchase holiday gifts, consistent with results seen over past three years. More than four in 10 (43.7 percent) will rely on debit cards as their primary form of payment. An additional 25.4 percent will use cash and 2.4 percent will use a check. Nearly three in 10 (28.5 percent) will charge their gifts.
When it comes to looking for inspiration for holiday gifts, traditional search methods will prevail, but tips from social media will be popular as well. According to the survey, 47.9 percent of consumers said they will look for holiday gift ideas online and 36.0 percent will check out retailers’ advertising circulars. Two in 10 (22.2 percent) will peruse magazines for ideas, 21.5 percent will look into email advertisements and 14.0 percent will use Facebook. Proving they are still seen as a value to shoppers, more than one-third (33.7 percent) of consumers say they will seek ideas from catalogs. Additionally, 10.1 percent will use retailers’ apps, up from 8.7 percent last year, and 7.2 percent will use Pinterest, up from 5.8 percent last year.