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What Holiday Shoppers Want…Especially Last Minute


The holiday shopping trends retailers need to know about.

Holiday season is crunch time for shoppers and retailers alike. Shoppers delay gift buying partly because they’re busy planning and attending pre-holiday parties and dinners, and partly because they can’t decide on the perfect gifts, or they’re waiting for inspiration, or they’re waiting for late-season sales.

Whatever the reason for their delay, knowing what consumers want and how they find shortcuts to get it is invaluable to the retailer. Given that the winter holidays account for nearly 20 percent of annual retail sales for retailers, it’s smart to prepare a few strategies in early fall.


Consumers Play a Waiting Game

The National Retail Federation’s consumer survey found that last year’s average spending per person for holiday shopping was $806, up slightly from the previous year. Of that total, an average of $463 was spent on family gifts.

The average shopper surveyed had completed more than half (53.5%) of their gift list by mid-December, and 90 percent surveyed still planned to complete their lists before Christmas. That means the biggest consumer demand for goods and services is between December 15 and January 1. But even when the holidays are over, the shopping isn’t. NRF’s survey found 66 percent of holiday shoppers – particularly millennials (18-24-year-olds) – browsed and bought merchandise in after-Christmas sales in-store and online.


Looking for Gifts in All the Right Places

Last year, a study from Searchmetrics found that 62 percent of U.S. consumers researched Christmas gifts online on Amazon, and 44 percent searched for them on Google.

Here are important takeaways for retailers to capture the holiday shopping momentum:


Entice shoppers who are browsing online

  • Consider featuring your products on Amazon just for the holiday season with a professional or individual seller’s license.
  • Facebook and Instagram offer holiday ad targeting toward people already highly engaged with shopping-related content.
  • Track keywords in your website and social media analytics to pinpoint what shoppers are searching for, and then make sure those featured products are prominently displayed for a search engine optimization boost.
  • Make sure your website is mobile-device-optimized, with your featured products prominently displayed on the home page for ease of access.


Make it easy on the procrastinators

  • Nearly half (46.7%) of those surveyed by the NRF said free shipping or other shipping promotions influenced their decision on where to shop.
  • Don’t forget gift card holders, who tend to hold onto the cards for maximum value seeking last-minute sales and promotions.

Said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay, “We expect retailers will be competitive on price and value options in the final stretch, including extended store hours and in-store events, as well as online deals and free shipping offers.”


Feeling and responding to the consumer’s pain can translate into your gain. Fine tune your marketing strategies to align with consumer behaviors to make the most frenzied time of the year the most profitable time as well.

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