Is it already time to start talking about “the holidays”? The answer is yes — at least for 40% of the U.S. who reported they were thinking and planning to some degree in mid-August. That means, even before the Starbucks PSL debuted for the season, consumers were asking themselves what they will do for Thanksgiving and how much they should spend on Christmas gifts. 

Not only are people thinking about the holiday season that’s around the corner — or a few corners — more are preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas in August this year (40%) than last year (30%).

The reason for the increase in early holiday planners can be connected to a desire for hyper-preparedness. If the pandemic has taught consumers anything it’s cancelations, shortages, and things like social distancing can derail your idea of a happy holiday season. The data show a strong correlation between people who believe their 2021 holiday will be impacted by COVID and likelihood to be making holiday preparations as early as August.

More than half of people who plan to spend money over the holidays say they anticipate spending just as much as last year. And a greater percentage will be spending less than will be spending more – except if you’re a hyper-preparer. People who began prepping for the holidays in August wildly over-index in their plans to spend more this holiday season (55%) than last holiday season.

Early holiday planners tend to be young, non-White, low-income, female consumers. They also tend to fall in the category of people reporting they’re much better off financially as a result of the pandemic.

Businesses should note that tapping into these early shoppers means meeting them where they are: online and seeking out small businesses. 

Whether you’re ready or not, the holiday season is effectively upon us. People are not only thinking farther ahead than usual, but there’s also a hefty group of consumers out there who are willing and able to spend money between now and the end of November. People want to ensure they get to celebrate the holidays this year, even if things happen to change last minute.