Retailers no longer wait for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend to start their holiday sales, pushing deals up ever-earlier in the month. Marshal Cohen, Chief Industry Analyst at The NPD Group, a partner of CivicScience, recently identified that this year’s big holiday shopping question is: ‘when’ will consumers be inspired to make their purchases? Since mid-September, CivicScience has been polling U.S. adult consumers on their holiday shopping progress, in order to better forecast sales for the remainder of the season.
Those retailers’ sales offerings that launched earlier in November provided some incentive for consumers to start shopping sooner. As of the first week in November, 30% of adult holiday shoppers had started purchasing gifts. While this stat may seem like a small change, NPD’s Cohen reminds us, “The 30 percent of consumers who holiday shop before December is actually very significant, and possibly one of the biggest shifts we’ve seen in holiday shopping since the dawn of online 20 years ago.”
Mid-November seems to be the time frame when consumers really start making progress on their holiday shopping lists. Starting on November 9, we have seen a steady increase in the amount of consumers saying they are about halfway done or almost done with their holiday shopping.
Next came the much-hyped Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, which both again saw declining stores sales (as they did in 2014). However, you can see from the chart above that those days were still very successful in getting nearly half of U.S. holiday shoppers going during that week.
Then the “10th annual” Cyber Monday rolled around this year and really kick-started purchase activity. In fact, this year Cyber Monday set a new record for single-day online sales and beat analyst forecasts (according to Adobe’s Digital Index). Last week, we covered the higher excitement level to shop on Cyber Monday compared to Thanksgiving or Black Friday. So, we took another pulse after Cyber Monday to see how shopping progress changed after the online shopping day was included in the mix:
Clearly, the major sales events of Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday collectively worked to really kick holiday shopping into gear. As of December 1, 63% of about 1,200 adults who plan to holiday shop had finally started their purchasing, which is a huge jump from the 48% who started leading up to the Thanksgiving shopping weekend.
Last year, we published a report comparing more “early bird” holiday gift shoppers to later shoppers. We found that 16% of those who holiday shop wait for those big sales days to get started, and 36% consider themselves more “last minute” shoppers who wait until the few weeks before Christmas. For the procrastinators, sales may not be enough to get them into the stores – while the convenience of online shopping may offer more incentive and why we are seeing increased participation in Cyber Monday.
Still, only a quarter of adults are done or almost done with their holiday shopping, which means there will be many consumers making purchases during the remaining three weeks leading up to the holiday. In fact, 90% of holiday-shopping adults will still be visiting stores or eCommerce sites in the coming weeks to complete or even start their holiday shopping, which is great news for retailers.