Ahead of Christmas, 38% of customers surveyed reported buying gift cards as holiday gifts.
Shoppers procrastinated when it came to holiday shopping this year.
More than 40% of holiday shoppers surveyed expect to finish their holiday gift shopping by Dec. 19, but the biggest procrastinators planned to buy gifts through Christmas Eve, according to the annual consumer sentiment survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
“Having made their lists and checked them twice, holiday shoppers have been out in full force these last few weeks, but many are still waiting to complete their shopping this weekend,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers will use every opportunity to see that shoppers have a great experience in these final few days. Whether looking for competitive prices, festive in-store events or last-minute online shipping deals, retailers are ready to deliver.”
The survey found that 34% of holiday shoppers purchased their last gift by the Tuesday before Christmas. A total of 44% expected to be done by the end of Dec. 19, with 24% planning to make their last purchases Saturday or Sunday and 7% saying they will still be shopping on Christmas Eve. And 4% said their final gifts wouldn’t be bought until after Christmas.
The survey found that 56% of holiday shoppers – about 134 million people, up from 126 million last year – planned to shop on “Super Saturday,” the last Saturday before Christmas.
Of consumers who had completed half or less of their shopping, 44% said they were still deciding what to buy, up from 42% last year. Twenty-seven percent were waiting for family members to share their requests while 26% cited other financial priorities, 25% were too busy with other activities and 22% admitted being procrastinators.
As of Dec.12, consumers still shopping planned to make their remaining purchases online (51%), at department stores (41%), discount stores (25%), apparel stores (21%), electronics stores (17%), local/small businesses (14%) and grocery stores (13%).
“Last-minute shoppers are looking forward to the weekend this year to finalize their shopping plans before the big day,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “They are making sure to research everything from shipping deadlines to the best deals. Some are already looking to the days after Christmas to find treasures in the clearance bins.”
The survey found 53% of consumers have already purchased clothing as gifts; 38% gift cards; 37% toys; 32% video games, books, and movies; 24% food or candy and 23% electronics or computer-related accessories.
Gifts of experience such as a cooking class, spa treatment, membership for a wine club or tickets to a sporting event have continued to be popular, with 39% of consumers hoping to receive an experience gift and 23% planning to give one.
When asked about receiving gift cards this holiday season, 42% of people surveyed said they would wait for a good sale to maximize the value of the cards, and an equal split of consumers (20%) said they would use them as quickly as possible or save them for a rainy day.
For consumers who miss next week’s Christmas deadline, 50% plan to take advantage of after-Christmas sales in stores, and 45% plan to do the same online.
The week immediately following Christmas (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1), is an attractive time for many holiday shoppers. More than half (51%) said they will shop during that period to take advantage of post-holiday sales, with 27% saying they would do so to use gift cards they receive and 17% to return or exchange unwanted gifts.
The survey, which asked 6,978 consumers about holiday shopping plans, was conducted Dec. 3-12 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.