The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier and earlier each year. And this year is no exception, with top retailers like Walmart, Amazon and Kohl’s already releasing their toy lists (Walmart’s toy list came out a week earlier than last year, by the way) and holiday commercials starting to hit our screens.
Knowing that the last few holiday seasons have been a wild ride for retailers and shoppers alike — from the pandemic to supply chain issues, inflation, staffing challenges, shipping delays and beyond — we conducted a survey of 1,001 U.S. adults to get a read on how consumers are planning to approach their holiday shopping this year. (See methodology).
Among our top findings:
- Holiday shoppers are planning to get an extra-early start this year.
- Increasing prices remain a top holiday shopping stressor for consumers.
- Holiday travel is on the rise.
- Majority of consumers plan to participate in holiday gift shopping, and nearly all look for inspiration and gift-giving ideas during the holiday.
Shoppers Will Be out Early This Year
The holiday shopping season is already underway, with Amazon’s Big Deal Days event approaching in October and retailers’ pre-Black Friday events on the horizon.
Our survey found that 83% of shoppers plan to get started on their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving (traditionally the gateway to the holiday shopping season) this year.
Here’s when shoppers plan to start:
- August or earlier: 15%
- September: 20%
- October: 29%
- November (before Thanksgiving): 19%
- November (Black Friday and on): 13%
- December: 5%
This early start to holiday shopping isn’t necessarily new. In past years, we’ve also found that the majority of shoppers get started well before Thanksgiving weekend. However, this year, we’re seeing that many more shoppers are starting even earlier than before — with 64% beginning holiday shopping in October or earlier (compared to 53% in 2022).
Finances Remain a Major Shopping Stressor This Year, but Shoppers Have a Plan
With inflation continuing to impact consumer spending habits, it’s no surprise that increasing prices are the top cause of holiday shopping stress this year for 52% of Americans. The top shopping stressors for 2023 include:
- Increasing prices: 52%
- Large crowds in stores: 48%
- Fitting everything into my budget: 46%
- Products being out of stock: 41%
- Not knowing what to buy: 36%
- Delivery delays/getting everything in time for the holidays: 33%
- Finding the best deals: 31%
- Uncertainty about my economic situation: 31%
- Not knowing if products will be good quality: 21%
- Finding the time to shop: 20%
- Returning unwanted items: 16%
- Oversaturated/too-early holiday advertising: 15%
Pricing may be a top concern this year, but shoppers are being strategic with their shopping plans.
Our survey found that 60% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before November as a way to better spread out their budget and purchases. Top reasonings for early spending include:
- To spread out their budget/space out purchases: 60%
- To make sure everything arrives on time: 51%
- To avoid items being sold out: 45%
Despite Inflation Continuing to Affect Budgets, Consumers Remain Excited for the Season
Although rising prices remain a big concern for shoppers, our survey found that the majority of consumers (80%) still plan to participate in holiday gift shopping this year and 73% of consumers will shop holiday sales events October through December. Which fall and winter occasions are people shopping for? Our survey shows:
- Christmas: 90%
- Thanksgiving: 70%
- Halloween: 59%
- Cold weather purchases: 43%
- Self-gifts: 39%
- New Year’s Eve: 35%
- Fall and winter decor: 35%
- Holiday party outfits and accessories: 25%
- Fall sporting events: 16%
- Friendsgiving: 8%
Nearly All Consumers Look for Inspiration and Gift-Giving Ideas During the Holiday
As shoppers dash through their shopping lists, they rely on brands and retailers to ease their gifting stress and spark their imagination as they embark on their holiday shopping journey.
Nearly all consumers (96%) are heavily focused on finding holiday inspiration in October and November, and 70% of consumers are drawn to deal sites for holiday inspiration and gift-giving ideas. Shoppers stated that their top three inspirational sources include:
- Friends and family: 55%
- In-store displays: 46%
- Retail sites and apps: 45%
Holiday Travel Is on the Rise
The 2023 holiday travel season is looking up from past years’, with 68% of consumers planning to purchase holiday travel, compared to 55% in 2022, and up by 58% compared to 2021 holiday travel (when COVID was suppressing holiday travel).
Our survey also showed that, on average, shoppers will spend $1,198 on travel purchases this year. For those traveling, they plan to purchase their trips in:
- August or earlier: 17%
- September: 24%
- October: 27%
- November: 26%
- December: 19%
However, despite holiday travel being a more popular buy this year, our survey also showed that 32% of shoppers do not plan to travel at all this holiday season and 41% of these consumers cited finances as contributing to their lack of travel.
Industry Trends for Attracting Early Holiday Shopping
On the retail side, we found trends in consumers’ buying decisions and inspiration for holiday shopping this season:
- Influencers make a huge impact: 1 in 2 U.S. consumers say they’ve added an item to their shopping plans thanks to an influencer recommendation.
- 44% of consumers say they will purchase a product endorsed by an influencer this holiday season.
- Deals and rewards like cash back do the trick to attract new customers: 85% of shoppers are willing to try new brands or products with an irresistible deal.
- 69% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase if there is a cash back offer.
- 82% of shoppers search for savings opportunities before making a purchase.
- Brand loyalty is up for grabs during the research phase, with most consumers (67%) comparing prices between at least two retailers before making a purchase.
- Offers seal the deals this holiday season: 67% of consumers complete a purchase once they have secured a deal/offer.
- One-third of consumers utilize aggregator sites and apps during their research.
Ziff Davis Shopping Shopper Survey of adults (18+) who are retail shoppers, with 1,000 respondents. Fielded in July 2023.
The post Holiday Shopping by the Numbers: Early Trends for the 2023 Season appeared first on The Real Deal by RetailMeNot.