Holiday Shopping: 27% of Shoppers Are Starting A Month Early

October 25, 2021

Fiorella Riccobono

More than a year after Covid altered our lifestyles, we can still count on the stability of holiday shopping demands. We are days away from Halloween – one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the US – yet some Americans already have the end-of-year holidays on their minds. With retailers and manufacturers gearing up for the 2021 holiday season, Premise aims to help shoppers strategize their 2021 shopping plans, and help businesses meet shoppers’ demands. Through our platform, we learned that 60% of Premise shoppers’ holiday shopping will differ from last year.

Retailers and shoppers appear to be optimistic about the upcoming holiday shopping season, and are beginning their shopping earlier. According to the survey, this year 19% of shoppers started holiday shopping two months in advance, 11% shopped 3 months in advance and 21% shopped one month before the holidays. To compile our holiday expectations, Premise conducted a survey from October 5th through November 1st and surveyed 1,960 qualified holiday shoppers.

The early bird shopper findings are not surprising, given that retailers can’t catch a break ahead of the holidays. For years, Thanksgiving and Black Friday have marked the official kickoff to the holiday shopping season; the time of year when shoppers become hyper-focused on holiday spending. Last year, retailers pushed a longer shopping season with more online sales amid the pandemic. This year, the US is running out of stock on almost everything, and even when goods come in, there aren’t enough drivers to get them to their destinations.

Premises’s VP of Commercial, Ken Cassar, warns holiday shoppers that this year will be unlike any other. “Holiday shoppers need to shop early, and they need to have gift contingency plans. If you see the video game console that your kids are dreaming about in the store today, just buy it. Don’t wait. Don’t assume that it will come on sale closer to Christmas. And set the kids’ expectations appropriately. They need to understand that they might not get what they’re really craving, that Santa’s workshop was also affected by COVID.”

It’s a problem that was in the making prior to the pandemic. But supply-chain issues amid the busiest time of the retail year have put things into overdrive. In 2018, the trucking industry was short by 60,800 drivers, and the American Trucking Association predicts that number will go up to 100,000 by 2023.

Additionally, 62% of holiday shoppers said their budget will differ from last year, which prompted Premise to ask what motivated shoppers to purchase gifts. Price was the largest influencing factor, followed by sales & “hot items.” 

Premise also compared the big-box and virtual shopping experience; 66% of holiday shoppers plan to shop both online and in person.  For the 19% who plan to do their holiday shopping online, experts warn they can expect to find record out-of-stock messages as they scan retail websites and may face prolonged shipping delays.

For those who prefer in-person shopping, list sales, product availability and price are the primary appeals. For those who prefer online shopping, convenience is the #1 factor. 

How do Premise Contributors define a holiday shopping budget? Here is their spending spread in 2021:

2021 Holiday Shopping Trends:

This year’s Black Friday will also be different from all other Black Fridays. In 2020 big-box retailers opted for curbside pickup and e-commerce pushes to slow the spread of Covid. In 2021, things have somewhat returned to normal, but Black Friday will likely not be the same. Retail giants like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy are keeping their doors closed this Thanksgiving once again. This could indicate that big-box retailers are moving away from Black Friday and single big splash shopping events, and are instead rolling out seasons of deals.

Avoid last-minute holiday shopping:

All of this leads to one holiday shopping tip in 2021: start early. The holiday shopping season seems to start earlier and earlier each year, and in 2021, there’s a laundry list of problems plaguing the retail sector right now (labor shortages, lack of inventory, eager consumers ready to spend, etc.). Secure your holiday shopping list as early as you can. 

As we enter the second holiday season during a pandemic, it’s evident that some shopping patterns and behaviors have been permanently altered, while some new trends are here to stay.  The concern for stockouts and shipping delays will likely motivate shoppers to start earlier year over year. As pandemic anxiety eases, consumers return to browsing physical stores. 

Accurate data about real-time conditions is critical to understand the true barriers to growth and create effective strategies. Unfortunately, most brands lack in-store visibility to obtain a deeper understanding of their customer experience, merchandising, efficiency, inventory, competition and pricing. Premise’s retail audit program allows your business to collect on-the-ground store data unveiling and dissecting any barriers to growth and creating viable strategies to address and remove these barriers. With Premise’s insights, you can maximize sales and market share, improve your customer experience and develop more productive relationships with your retail partners.

About Premise’s Capabilities

Consumer behavior and preferences, as well as in-store activity, is constantly changing. As the retail market continues to grow around the world due to increased income, awareness, accessibility and lifestyle changes, it is important that businesses develop tailored strategies for their markets. Monitoring in-store conditions on a regular basis with crowdsourced retail audits and mystery shopping allow your business to quickly identify the early signs of change and adapt strategies in sync. With the sufficient collection of real-time customer data from verified Contributors, big-box retailers can track their out of stock (OOS), planogram compliance, competitive intelligence and more. And even though pandemic fears are decreasing, a retail audit can assess important demographic data – including store conditions, foot traffic, shopper compliance with mask-wearing, and social distancing adherence. Thankfully, technological advancements paved the way for valuable resources like crowdsourcing, which provides an accurate and efficient method of retail data collection.

Crowdsourced retail audits leverage a massive network of global Contributors to collect data in real-time. This instantaneous data collection provides the actionable insight necessary to help your brand optimize retail capabilities and scale locally, nationally or globally.

Premise can break down your data by demographics to help understand who is aware of, interested in, and — hopefully — buying your brand. We offer a robust demographic view of our contributors with over 15 data points on every individual, including gender, age, ethnicity, and religion. We can help fuse that with customer sales and distribution data to develop a holistic view of the consumer landscape, slicing and dicing the data by any of these metrics to get a targeted understanding of the audience that is interested in you. Get visibility into your retail store channel and address issues before they impact your bottom line so you can build a better customer experience and increase sales.

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