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NRF: Many consumers more than half way done with holiday shopping

Washington D.C. - Heavy promotional activity, paired with a habit of shopping early and often, are two major reasons why the average consumer has already completed just over half - 56.7% - of their holiday shopping to date.

[Note: Yesterday's Shop.org/NRF item about consumers delaying their purchases until closer to Christmas focused on ecommerce shoppers.]

According to NRF's latest holiday survey, which was conducted by BigInsight and polled 8,333 consumers from Dec. 4 to 10, that rate is up from 46.5% at this point in the season last year.

But more important to note - it's the highest percentage in the survey's 10-year history, NRF said.

Still, only 11.3% of Americans said they have wrapped up their lists.

"There's no question that holiday shoppers wanted to make the most out of retailers' promotions as early as they could, but as personal schedules get even busier these days, we know there are plenty of people who haven't even made a dent in their list yet," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo.

Over the next two weeks, 34.6% will complete their shopping at discount stores, and 44.5% will head to their favorite department store. Others will shop at electronics stores (23.3%), clothing and accessory stores (23.2%), grocery stores (13.5%) and outlet stores (12.5%). With an eye on shipping deadlines, 45.5% said they will finalize their shopping online.

The Internet is also playing an increasing role among shoppers this holiday. Among tablet owners and users, 61.8% said they will use their device to browse products, compare prices and purchase items over the next few days. Specifically, 30.3% will purchase gifts and 16.8% will use apps to compare prices.
Smartphone owners will use their handhelds, too: 51.7% will use their smartphone to research items, compare prices and purchase gifts over the next week and a half.

When asked which day they would purchase their last holiday gift, many of those who aren't finished shopping plan to finish before Dec. 18 (29.8%), and 10.2% will wait until the very last minute to buy their final gift items on Dec. 24. A slim group -- 4.1% -- said they will actually shop for their last item after Dec. 26.

"Last-minute shoppers are looking forward to the four-day weekend this year to finalize their shopping plans before the big day, making sure to research everything from shipping deadlines to the best deals on apparel, jewelry and electronics," said Pam Goodfellow, BigInsight consumer insights director.

Even with less than two weeks until the big day, many people said the economy will impact their plans. Nearly half of those polled (47.8%) said the state of the U.S. economy will affect their spending. Of those impacted, many will shop for sales more often (46.9%) and comparative shop online more often (36.7%). And 8.8% said they are using layaway this holiday season because of the state of the economy.

In terms of what's already been purchase, 53.1% said they've bought apparel this year, up from 44.2% at this time last year, and 41.9% have bought toys, up from 36.3% last year. Books, CDs, DVDs, videos and video games have also been popular, with 42.9% of shoppers having bought them, up from 38.7% last year. Additionally, holiday shoppers have filled their baskets with electronics (28.3%), sporting goods or leisure items (14.6%), jewelry (20.8%) and personal care or beauty items (21.8%). Four in 10 (39.2%) said they have already bought gift cards, the highest purchase level for cards that NRF has seen at this point in the holiday season.

When asked which activities they plan to do on Christmas Day specifically, the number of people who said they will shop online has nearly doubled since 2009: 8.2 % will shop online, compared to the 4.9% who said so four years ago. Other activities include browsing the web (26.5%), going to a restaurant (7.1%) and shopping in a store (3.8%).

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