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10/21/2021

Survey: Amid warnings, holiday shopping started to surge in mid-September

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
Holiday shopping is starting early in 2021.

U.S. consumers are acting on warnings of retailers, shippers and supply chain managers to shop early for the holidays.

According to the latest results of the weekly Boxpoll consumer survey from Pitney Bowes, between mid-September and early October 2021, the number of respondents who started holiday shopping jumped from just 25% to 42%. In total, surveyed consumers have completed 14% of their planned holiday purchases.

Among the 42% of surveyed consumers who have started shopping for the holidays, the average respondent has already completed close to four in 10 (38%) of their holiday purchases. Six in 10 respondents with children have started their holiday shopping, and two-thirds (66%) of respondents with no children have not started.

Survey data also reveals that Gen X and millennial respondents are the most likely to make early holiday purchases. Forty-three percent of millennial respondents plan to finish online shopping by the week of Black Friday, and another 14% during the week of Cyber Monday. A similar 42% of Gen X respondents plan to finish their online holiday shopping by the week of Black Friday, and another 10% during the week of Cyber Monday.

By comparison, only 36% of overall respondents plan to finish their online holiday shopping by the week of Black Friday. The survey also found that, irrespective of when consumers plan to start their holiday shopping, they plan to do most of it (53%) online.

The recent “2021 Holidays Unwrapped” study from global retail bank, payments and shopping service Klarna correlates many of Pitney Bowes’ findings. The study found that 40% of consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier in 2021 than they did in 2020, and that 71% of shoppers plan to begin purchasing holiday gifts before December, with 22% having already started.

More than seven in 10 (72%) shoppers surveyed by Klarna cited a desire to take advantage of holiday sales as the main reason for starting to make seasonal purchases earlier this year. Other leading reasons include ensuring product availability (50%), avoiding shipping delays (45%), and eliminating last-minute stress (39%).

“While many of the largest retailers have announced holiday promotions starting earlier than ever, large retailers are also in the best position to address inventory and manufacturing supply chain issues,” said Gregg Zegras, executive VP and president, global e-commerce at Pitney Bowes. “We are advising our mid-sized and smaller e-commerce clients to pull demand earlier by communicating with consumers more urgently and more often ahead of this holiday season.”

Zegras also said the retail industry would know in the coming weeks if proactive communications and early promotions are having the desired impact, but so far, consumers appear to be receptive.

Boxpoll by Pitney Bowes is a weekly consumer survey on current events, culture and e-commerce logistics. Morning Consult conducts weekly polls on behalf of Pitney Bowes among a national sample of more than 2,000 online shoppers. Results are extracted from surveys conducted over the past month.