Conventional wisdom says that the holiday shopping season starts after Thanksgiving with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While this may be true for most U.S. consumers, a growing number of people are starting their holiday shopping earlier and earlier. A recently released study from RetailMeNot found that nearly half of U.S. consumers plan to start gift shopping long before Thanksgiving weekend.

As much as people like to complain about seeing Christmas items on shelves too soon, the data suggests that there are a lot of shoppers who are looking for gifts before the official start of the holiday season. According to the RetailMeNot survey, nearly half (45 percent) of U.S. consumers said they plan to start shopping before November 1. In fact, many have already started. A quarter (25 percent) of the survey respondents said they planned to start shopping before October and 12 percent started shopping for the holidays this summer.

Early holiday shopping is done more by women than men but it’s common among both genders. In the RetailMeNot survey, nearly three out of five (59 percent) women said they planned to begin their holiday shopping before Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend compared to the less than half (48 percent) of men who said they planned to do the same.

The best way to reach early holiday shoppers is to use a special offer that captures their attention. More than half (52 percent) of the consumers surveyed planned to use a deal or offer when purchasing a gift for someone else. Similarly, just under half (48 percent) said they will choose a store to shop at based on the deals they find.

Deals are important because consumers need to make the most of limited budgets. When asked how they would financially prepare for the holidays, 47 percent of shoppers surveyed by RetailMeNot said they would be saving money in advance and 15 percent said they would be working overtime ahead of the holidays. It’s easy to see why consumers would value anything that saves them money on gift shopping.

Deciding the best time to start holiday advertising and marketing is something business owners should give serious thought. The right time to run holiday ads will vary from business to business, but there is great value in getting the timing right. There’s a lot of money on the table during the holiday season, and businesses that wait too long to start advertising specials may discover too late that many of their ideal customers had already finished shopping.

The data from RetailMeNot also suggests that 2017 will be a good year for holiday sales. According to their survey, gift buyers on average will spend $482 this year. This season, those surveyed by RetailMeNot said they plan to spend an average of $330 for children, $196 for significant others, $105 for parents, $90 for siblings and $57 on best friends.

The benefits of holiday shopping goes beyond store sales. Aside from gifts, consumers plan to spend more this year compared to 2016 on food ($164 vs. $133), lodging ($160 vs. $134) and entertainment ($148 vs. $85) for the winter holidays. It’s important to keep this in mind because it means all industries can benefit from holiday advertising and marketing.

Halloween hasn’t even arrived yet but the simple truth is that Christmas shopping has already begun. Businesses that want to make the most of the holiday season need to start early or else risk missing out a lot of holiday sales.

For some more data that can help business owners create better marketing campaigns this year, read this article on the effects of deal hunting on customer psychology.

Published on: Oct 16, 2017