Aliya Strohacker has already opened a Christmas present. It was on accident, says the Boston resident, who dug into an Amazon package delivered to her house earlier this week. She thought it was one of many gifts she ordered on Black Friday, but it turns out that package was one of many presents other people purchased on Black Friday for her.
“I usually don’t worry about checking to see if a package delivery is a present for me this early in the season,” says Strohacker, 46. “But it was a pleasant surprise. I guess people are really shopping early and taking advantage of the shipping options. Why wait?”
Stohacker’s experience is illustrative of the way in which shoppers take advantage of the Christmas shopping season. While much is made of those stragglers who fill the malls the day before Christmas to hurredly snap up gifts for children, family and friends, even more seem to be taking advantage of online shopping deals that allow them to play Santa well before the 25th. In fact, a recent Ipsos poll shows that a quarter of respondents started their holiday shopping before November even though 52% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t start shopping until the last two months of the year.
Why is this? Because online shopping has changed the landscape.
“It’s mainly a shift based on an evolution to the ‘always on’ shopper,” says Oscar Yuan, president of Ipsos Strategy 3, which specializes in insights into shopper loyalty and the future of several industries, including retail. “Before, shoppers were considered prime for marketing and buying when they were physically in the store or at the mall. The potential to make a purchase at any time has changed the mindsets of consumers from ‘shopping’ and ‘not shopping’ to ‘always on and browsing, considering, evaluating.’”
The numbers back this up.
When it comes to Black Friday deals, Millennials and households with children were most likely to take advantage, according to an Ipsos study. And because children are the trendsetters when it comes to family purchases, they are a large driver of what’s popular this season, especially when it comes to video games. And, no surprise here, buying holiday gifts also makes the majority of us happy.
In terms of actual spending, though historically some 54% of adults planned to spend less than $400 on gifts, recent Ipsos surveys show that households with children anticipate spending $1,121 this season. These families often have “child trendsetters” who drive their parents to purchase.
As for Strohacker, she put her early gift back in the box and placed it under her already-decorated-by-Thanksgiving tree. She has also already wrapped some 25 presents for her nieces and nephews. She is done shopping, although she thinks it would be nice to stroll through a nearby mall to find cute, small gifts for last minute drop-in guests. Early shopping has made the holidays less hectic, she says.
“I don’t even have kids, but I have lots of nieces and nephews and godchildren, so it’s nice to start early and be finished,” she says. “Now all I have to do is wait for Santa to come.”