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Advice To Holiday Shopping Advertisers: Start Earlier, And Don't Forget Traditional Media.

Even in a tough-shape economy, the holiday shopping season is set to begin soon – in fact, for many shoppers, quite likely sooner than it did last year or the year before. That's among the findings in Experian's just-released guide to the 2022 holiday season.

The report is based on Experian's data from consumers making credit and debit card purchases from October to December in 2019, 2020, and 2021, at mass retailers, apparel stores, office/electronics/games stores, specialty retailers and warehouse clubs, across the top 500 merchants.

One notable trend: share of October shopping has grown each year since 2019, to the point where nearly one-third of holiday sales (32%) takes place in October, while December's share of sales has fallen from 38% in 2019 to 35% in 2021. “Consumers were more likely to spread out their shopping rather than only focus on Cyber Week,” Experian's report says, recommending retailers offer targeted promotions earlier in the shopping season and target ads based on customers' shopping habits.

While online's share of holiday sales has moved from 26% to 32% from 2019 to 2021, the report shows most of that growth was pandemic-driven, where the gain from the 2020 to the 2021 holiday shopping season was just 1%. Likewise, brick-and-mortar's share fell from 74% to 68% over the same two-year period yet was down 1% from 2020 to 2021. As most shoppers therefore still prefer in-store to online, Experian recommends targeting both types of consumers based on purchasing category and when they start shopping.

Also potentially impacting advertising plans is Experian's expectation for mass retailers and apparel stores to dominate consumer spending, as has been the case the past three years. The former and latter accounted for 27% and 10% of spending respectively during the 2021 holiday shopping season, with most mass retailer sales at brick-and-mortars, vs. most online for apparel. “Expand your targeting and activation focus beyond in-store vs. online,” the report says. “Evaluate how you can further target your consumer based on where they shop.”

As to media mix, Experian's report states “While we are seeing a shift to digital media channel preference, our demographic data reveals that consumers still engage with traditional media channels,” suggesting that this is the time to make radio work for retailers focused on the holiday season, with focus on “the media channels in which the consumer is most receptive to hearing brand messages [and] messaging styles based on how consumers make buying decisions.”

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