Holiday Shopping Expected to Begin Earlier This Year

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The holiday shopping season is fast approaching and starting earlier each year, bringing unique opportunities for brands, retailers and marketers to create special experiences through memorable campaigns. What they need to keep in mind is the things that make different categories of shopper distinctive.

Two Types of Shoppers

A study by Bazaarvoice found two main types of shopper, planners and spontaneous shoppers. Fifty-nine percent of respondents categorized themselves as a “prepared shopper,” making lists, looking for sales and buying gifts and supplies an average of 42 days ahead of the holidays.

Spontaneous shoppers, accounted for the balance of 41%, browse and buy gifts as they go, preferring to wing it. Thirty-four percent of them never make a gift list and about the same amount (33%) get inspired while shopping.

While prepared shoppers plan their attack in advance, those in both categories say they buy on impulse. Survey respondents said they’re more likely to do so during the holidays compared to other times of the year. Of all respondents, 57% said they are more likely to make impulse purchases when shopping for gifts.

Half of the survey respondents said they buy gifts for themselves during the holidays. Fifty-one percent confessed that at least on one occasion they decided to keep a gift they had purchased for someone else.

The Holiday Season is Longer Than You Think

The survey found that 59% of shoppers purchase most or all of their gifts during sales days like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Panic Saturday (the new moniker for the Saturday before Christmas) and Thanksgiving Day.

Holiday shopping continues to march backwards on the calendar, Bazaarvoice found. In fact, Veteran’s Day weekend is generally the season’s inflection point. Data suggests that certain product categories such as electronics and toys are seeing spikes in research traffic as early as the first week of November.

For example, the most significant spike in toys was on Nov. 4, 2017, with an 119% increase. Beyond gift items, holiday décor, small appliances and grills also see an uptick in shopping traffic during the first week of November.

Black Friday is still the top shopping day for both online and offline commerce, the survey found. While Cyber Monday traffic is on the rise, 53% of shoppers say Black Friday is still their primary holiday shopping day. It’s the highest trafficked shopping day for 16 of the 20 product categories covered in the study.

Surprisingly, the study found that for the first time in recent history, both average order values and total revenue were higher on Thanksgiving Day 2017 than on Cyber Monday.

Thanksgiving Day brought in $1.2 billion in sales, while Cyber Monday accounted for $912 million, down from $1.3 billion in 2016. Thanksgiving was also the highest day for mobile sales at $624 million and the of $155.93 with mobile average order value of $146.07, even beating out Black Friday.

Cyber Monday came in third behind Black Friday and Thanksgiving for product categories including consumer electronics. TVs (944%), computers (638%) and video games (596%) each saw significant increases in traffic on Thanksgiving Day.

While prices and discounts are the primary reasons for shopping on the sale days, better than a third of shoppers on those days (35%) reported they were doing so to “get into the holiday spirit.”

Mobile is Changing the Way People Shop

Mobile is used for a variety of reasons in gift shopping. Bazaarvoice found consumers consult their devices to research products or find inspiration and discover new brands on social media. They have also embraced smartphone purchasing.

Also a big surprise: The survey found mobile shopping volume peaked on Christmas Day for almost all categories. There is also a boost on Dec. 26 in most categories, suggesting that consumers are looking for ways to spend gift cards, research and read reviews.

Notably, mobile traffic to holiday décor product pages is at its third-highest on Dec. 26, which shows that consumers are taking advantage of post-holiday sales right away and stocking up on supplies like wreaths, trees and wrapping paper.

It’s All About the Shopper Experience

Thirty percent of consumers in the survey said they plan to do more online shopping this year compared to last, but nearly all (96%) plan to shop physically and digitally. Very few prefer exclusively online vs. exclusively offline shopping.

Offering a great shopping experience isn’t the only thing that is important during the holiday shopping season. Ninety percent of consumers plan to give physical gifts for the holidays, but nearly one in three said they plan to give experiences.

Forty-six percent of millennials said they plan to give experiential gifts and 42% of parents opt for experiences for their children or partners.

Among the many types of experiential gifts this season, crafting-related ones like paint-and-sip are the most popular, listed by 47% of experiential buyers as their most popular option. Food-related gifts like cooking classes came in second at 45% followed by travel-related (41%) and romantic experiences (35%).


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