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40% of Consumers Started Holiday Shopping Early This Year

Retailers are ready with ‘deep discounts, robust inventory and … the best experiences possible.’

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(Press Release) WASHINGTON – Over 40 percent of holiday shoppers say they started earlier than they normally do, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Retailers have demonstrated their commitment and ability to ensure safe shopping environments for their customers and their associates,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

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As of early November, 59 percent of holiday shoppers say they had started making purchases, a 21 percent increase from a decade ago. Even so, there is still plenty of shopping left to do. On average, holiday shoppers say they have completed only 26 percent of their shopping so far.

Retailers’ top priority is the health and safety of their employees and customers, and these investments are paying off. A large majority (70 percent) of holiday shoppers say that, given the precautions retailers have taken for COVID-19, they have felt safe shopping in stores this holiday season.

NRF launched a consumer education campaign called “New Holiday Traditions” to encourage consumers to shop safe and shop early this holiday season. Retailers began stocking their shelves with holiday inventory and offering holiday promotions as early as October. As a result, 69 percent of holiday shoppers say they are able to find the items they are looking for all or most of the time, and 84 percent are confident they will receive items they order online in time for the holidays.

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“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,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “These additional offerings translate to more options for holiday shoppers in the long run.”

Clothing and accessories are the most popular gift category, according to 54 percent of those surveyed, followed by gift cards/gift certificates (49 percent), toys (37 percent), books and other media (34 percent) and food/candy (28 percent).

Similar to last year, consumers plan to purchase between three and four gift cards, for an average spend of $163 per consumer. Total spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion.

The 2020 top toys for boys and girls include LEGOs and PlayStation. Cars and trucks, Hot Wheels and video games are also popular gifts for boys. Barbie and dolls remain the top toys for girls.

Credit cards (42 percent) remain the top form of payment consumers plan to use this holiday season, followed closely by debit cards (41 percent). Just 15 percent of consumers listed cash as a top form of payment during the holidays, the lowest in the survey’s history and likely related to the coronavirus. Half (49%) of shoppers plan to use an alternative form of payment such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Venmo.

The survey of 8,362 adult consumers was conducted November 2 through 9 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

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