Customers eager for deals are beginning their holiday shopping early this year.
In fact, more than half of consumers have already started making dents in their holiday gift lists, according to the annual mid-season survey released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
“Consumers are looking for great prices and promotions earlier than ever, and retailers answered that demand by offering Black Friday deals as soon as the day after Halloween,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This time of year is about finding the right gifts while staying on budget. For those looking for anything from toys to apparel at retailers large and small, in-store or online, retailers are ready with great merchandise at affordable prices.”
The survey found that 55.7% of shoppers have already started buying holiday gifts, the second-highest level in the history of the survey, down slightly from the record 56.6% at the same time last year. Only 3% said they were finished shopping.
Clothing and accessories remain the most popular gifts this year, given by 61% of shoppers; 56% will give gift cards. Nearly half of shoppers, 44%, will give books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games; 42% will give toys, 31% food or candy and 30% will give electronics.
“With more promotions to come, shoppers will have ample opportunities this holiday season to seek out the perfect presents — either for themselves or for others,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “The popularity of gift cards makes them an easy choice, but many consumers will still search online and in store, browse ad circulars and even login to Facebook to find inspiration for unique and memorable gifts for their loved ones.”
Holiday shoppers are planning to purchase an average of three gift cards with an approximate value of $46 per card, the second most-popular gift after clothing.
Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion, up from last year’s planned $26 billion. The most popular types of gift cards include those from restaurants (35% of buyers), department stores (33%), Visa/MasterCard/American Express (22%), coffee shops (21%) and entertainment (17%).
Predicting the “hot” toys each season can be a challenge for harried parents and others buying for children, but many already have their shopping lists prepared. Barbie (23%) reigns for the second consecutive year among those buying for girls, followed by traditional dolls (12%), Shopkins (5%), Hatchimals (4%), Legos (3%) and American Girl (also 3%). For boys, Legos again tops the list of must-haves (15%), followed by cars and trucks (8%), video games and Hot Wheels (tied at 6%) and Star Wars-related items (5%).
Debit cards are the most popular form of payment this year, used by 39.7% of shoppers, up from 39% last year and edging out credit cards, which will be used by 38.7% (up from 38% last year). One in five (19.5%) plan to pay with cash, while only 2% will use checks. Additionally, one-fifth (19.9%) plan to use PayPal when purchasing holiday gifts this year.
The survey, which asked 7,206 consumers about holiday shopping plans, was conducted Nov. 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.