NRF: Half of Winter Holiday Shopping Already Started

Friday, Nov. 29 is often considered the beginning of the winter retail season with ubiquitous Black Friday specials prominent everywhere.

But new data from the National Retail Federation suggests almost half of all winter shopping has already begun — much of it driven by e-commerce.

The NRF commissioned survey found 56% of respondents had already begun their holiday shopping during the first week of November. That was up from 48% who had already started at the same point a decade ago. On average, consumers had completed 24% of their shopping, the highest level in the history of the survey and up from 16% in 2009.

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“This is further evidence that the holiday season has grown far beyond the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas,” Matthew Shay, CEO of NRF, said in a statement. “Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there’s billions of dollars in shopping still to come. But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that.”

NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 and has forecast that sales will total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion. Consumers expect to spend an average $1,047.83 — including purchases made earlier — for an increase of 4% over last year.

There are only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, down six days from last year, but NRF does not expect that to make a difference in spending given the number of people who begin shopping earlier.

“Consumers don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Black Friday anymore and neither do retailers,” said Phil Rist, EVP of strategy at Prosper Insights & Analytics, which conducted the survey for NRF. “Retailers responded this year by offering promotions earlier than ever, with some rolling out holiday deals even before Halloween.”

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