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Survey reveals changing holiday shopping patterns

Retailers who are open on Thanksgiving shouldn't expect a significant boost.

That's according to a report from The NPD Group, which also found that the holiday 2017 shopping season will be the first when more U.S. consumers will start shopping in the middle of the season (Thanksgiving weekend through Cyber Monday) than will start late in the season (i.e. early December).

According to NPD’s 2017 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, getting a late start to the holiday shopping season has become less prevalent over the last 10 years.

"The consumer that used to wait until after Thanksgiving weekend now shops during it,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Despite all the efforts in recent years to get shoppers shopping before Black Friday week we see little to no movement early in the season, but the last-minute shoppers have moved their timing up.”

The biggest shift in holiday shopping timing that occurred in recent years was the year brick-and-mortar retailers introduced earlier store openings on Thanksgiving Day, 2014. In 2017, nearly 30% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping over Thanksgiving weekend, compared to the 12% to 16% in the years prior to 2014. However, there is another important dynamic at play – the largest increase in online shopping plans also occurred in 2014, when 59% of consumers planned to shop online during the holiday season, up from 43% in 2013.

Consumers’ plans to shop online during the holiday season have been steadily climbing. Two-thirds of consumers plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year.

“The excitement of Thanksgiving Day store openings has now faded, making them a low risk, low reward proposition," Cohen said. While choosing to close on the holiday will not be detrimental to those retailers, the retailers who open won’t see a significant boost this year either. The boost we will see during the peak Thanksgiving week shopping period of the 2017 holiday season will come from online sales – online will continue to grow.”
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