Oct 10, 2023 - Economy

How early you start holiday shopping may depend on age

Data: Shopify-Gallup Holiday Shopper Pulse; Chart: Axios Visuals

Young consumers are hungry for holiday deals and not opposed to an earlier start to the shopping season, according to a new Gallup survey.

By the numbers: More than one in four holiday shoppers started buying gifts by the end of September — but 59% will wait until November or December to start, a Shopify-Gallup survey of 1,761 U.S. adults found.

  • 17% of adults said they planned to begin shopping in October, which is when retailers roll out early deals. 24% said they started in September or earlier.
  • 48% of young shoppers (ages 18-29) say they would definitely or probably start shopping earlier if retailers offered deals earlier.
  • 80% of shoppers 65 and older said if retailers start their sales and promotions earlier they will not change when they start shopping.

The big picture: Major retailers including Amazon, Costco and Walmart are among the retailers with early sales this week, more than six weeks before Black Friday.

  • Inflation is part of the reason for the earlier start to help consumers stretch out purchases.
  • Expect additional rounds of sales before Thanksgiving and in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

What's happening: Retailers will likely need to use promotions to drive store traffic this year and discount levels will depend on consumer demand, Lauren Murphy, a Wells Fargo managing director, told Axios.

  • Murphy said the October early holiday sales performance will be a "key indicator" of the rest of the holiday season.
  • "If consumer demand remains soft, expect retailers to have to increase" promotions with higher discounts, Murphy said.

Zoom out: Early holiday shopping was all about the supply chain mess a couple of years ago, said Ted Rossman, Bankrate senior industry analyst.

  • "There was a feeling that if you didn't order early, you might not get your items in time for the holiday," Rossman said. "Now, I think the motivation is more financial."
  • "I know it feels early, but I think an early start gives shoppers more time to research the best deals and spread out their cash flow," he said.

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