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It’s Not Just Christmas Radio That Came Early This Year. So Did Holiday Shoppers.

If retailers are looking to motivate customers nervous about holiday spending in the midst of the pandemic, the combination of a sale and a radio ad could do the trick. The National Retail Federation says four in ten holiday shoppers have started shopping earlier than normal this year. And when asked what would motivate them, a majority (53%) said a sale or promotion would push them to shop sooner.

As of early November, six in ten holiday shoppers (59%) had started making purchases, a 21% increase from a decade ago. Even so, there is still plenty of shopping left to do. On average, holiday shoppers said they have completed only 26% of their shopping so far, according to the annual survey released Monday by the NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Consumers have welcomed the longer shopping season, where many retailers have chosen to offer deals before and leading up to the traditional Thanksgiving and Black Friday doorbusters,” said Prosper Executive VP of Strategy Phil Rist. “These additional offerings translate to more options for holiday shoppers in the long run.”

Toilet paper and disinfectants may be hard to come by, but the NRF said retailers began stocking their shelves with holiday inventory and offering holiday promotions as early as October. As a result, 69% of holiday shoppers said they are able to find the items they are looking for all or most of the time, and 84% are confident they will receive items they order online in time for the holidays.

All in, consumers plan to spend $997.79 on gifts, holiday items such as decorations and food, and additional "non-gift" purchases for themselves and their families, according to the annual survey. While overall spending in these categories is down by about $50 from last year, nearly all of the decrease ($45) comes from consumers’ hesitation to use seasonal sales and promotions to buy other, non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.

“Consumers have demonstrated their resilience and adaptability throughout these extraordinary times,” said NRF President Matthew Shay. The NRF says consumer spending on gifts is forecast to decrease by only about $8, while per person spending on other holiday items like decorations is up slightly. “With consumers looking to fulfill their gift lists earlier this year, retailers are prepared to meet that demand with deep discounts, robust inventory and providing the best experiences possible whether in store or online,” said Shay.

As online sales have skyrocketed during the pandemic, six in ten consumers plan to purchase holiday items online this year. Other top holiday shopping destinations for consumers include department stores, mentioned by 45%, discount stores (43%), and grocery stores or supermarkets (42%).

The data is based on a pair of surveys conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics Oct. 1-9 and Nov. 2-9 on behalf of NRF. Each has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

See the NRF’s Coronavirus State-By-State Retail Restrictions Map HERE.

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