Study: Many Holiday Shoppers Skip Last-Minute Deals, Shop Early

Done with your holiday shopping yet? Surprisingly, you're far from alone. A recent National Retail Federation study found that most holiday shoppers start weeks or months before the holidays are even a glimmer in your eye.

For some grinches, it’s the most annoying time of the year.

The days after Halloween are often seen as a period of “Christmas creep,” where holiday songs suddenly take over radio stations, festive displays start going up, and retailers start promoting holiday sales.

But there’s a reason why they do that: A bunch of early birds are out there, and they’re looking for a deal.

A recent study by the National Retail Federation found that about 40 percent of shoppers start looking for holiday gifts before Halloween, while another 41.5 percent start focusing on holiday shopping in November. And this isn’t a new trend—NRF says that 40 percent of shoppers have been eyeing early gift-buying for the past 14 years!

NRF’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey found that a variety of reasons drive this bout of early shopping, including a desire to stretch out budgets (cited by 61.4 percent of respondents), avoiding crowds (48 percent), and avoiding stress (46 percent).

“There are millions of people who have this early-bird itch,” NRF spokesperson Kathy Allen told NBC News last month.

(Perhaps this whole early-bird thing is why the outdoor retailer REI feels like its stores can take Black Friday off.)

As CNBC notes, companies have been quick to change their selling habits to attract early-bird consumers. Wal-Mart, for example, starts holiday layaway programs in August, and Amazon held its Prime Day earlier this year, which was seen by some analysts as an attempt to push the holiday shopping season into the summer months. (Christmas in July just got a whole new meaning.)

“We’ve now conditioned the consumer for it to be an elongated period of time,” Deloitte’s Rod Sides told CNBC.

No word on how NRF or other retailers feel about radio stations playing Christmas carols so early in the year.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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