According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics, over half of consumers in the US have already started their holiday shopping and nearly a quarter of purchases have already been made.
NRF defines the holiday season as November 1 through December 31 and has forecast that sales will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion. Consumers expect to spend an average $1,047.83 – including purchases made earlier – for an increase of 4% over last year, according to NRF’s annual survey released in October.
“The holiday season has grown far beyond the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” said NRF president and CEO, Matthew Shay. “Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there’s billions of dollars in shopping still to come. But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that.”
The survey found 56% of consumers surveyed during the first week of November had already begun their holiday shopping, about the same as the past few years. On average, consumers had completed 24% of their shopping, the highest level in the history of the survey and up from 16% in 2009. Only 4% had finished shopping.
“Consumers don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Black Friday anymore and neither do retailers,” observed Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy, Prosper Insights & Analytics. “Retailers responded this year by offering promotions earlier than ever, with some rolling out holiday deals even before Halloween.”
There are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, down six days from last year and the shortest number possible, but NRF does not expect that to make a difference in spending given the number of people who begin shopping earlier.
Even with many consumers shopping earlier, NRF estimates that 165.3 million people will shop in stores and online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, drawn by good deals, tradition and the social aspects of spending time with friends and family.
Similar to recent years, clothing and accessories are the top gift category this year, purchased by 58% of those surveyed, followed by gift cards (54%), toys (39%), books/music/movies/video games (37%) and food/candy (32%).
Credit cards remain the top form of payment at 42%, followed by debit cards (37%) and cash (19%). Forty-four percent of holiday shoppers plan to use alternative payment systems, with 32% saying they will use PayPal, 10% Apple Pay, 7% Google Pay and 5% each Samsung Pay and Venmo.