Holiday Shoppers at the Starting Gate: More Than Half Set to Shop Before November 1

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It may be the season of the witch, but for many consumers, it is the start of the holiday shopping. Nearly half of consumers plan to begin holiday shopping before November 1, according to e-marketing company RetailMeNot, which published its findings for the 2017 holiday season.

The RetailMeNot report follows the forecast of the National Retail Federation (NRF) that predicted an increase in retail spending between 3.6% and 4.0% this holiday season.

RetailMeNot said 68% of consumers will spend money between Black Friday (November 24) and Cyber Monday (November 27). Americans will spend an average of $743 on holiday shopping over that weekend, an increase of 47% from the $505 spent over the same period in 2016. At least half of consumers are willing to wake up early on Black Friday and Cyber Monday for a deal. Cyber Monday is gaining popularity, with 56% of consumers making purchases that day, compared with 39% in 2016.

Black Friday is no longer as frenetic as it once was, however. Some 52% of consumers plan to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving, compared with 53% last year. Still, Black Friday remains the top shopping day of the season, according to RetailMeNot. The other top 10 predicted shopping days are: November 27 (Cyber Monday), December 16, December 9, December 2, December 15, November 25 (Black Saturday), November 26 (Cyber Sunday), December 17 and December 10.

RetailMeNot said American consumers are searching for holiday deals in clothes/shoes (53%), electronics (51%), toys (32%), jewelry (16%), restaurants/entertainment (15%) and travel (15%). Consumers plan to spend $330 on children, $196 on a significant other, $105 on parents, $90 on siblings and $57 on best friends.

Nearly eight in 10 retailers will begin their marketing efforts earlier this year than in 2016. More than half, 52%, of retailers began their promotions for the holiday season in September or earlier. And recognizing the shift to e-commerce, 58% of retailers plan to make online shoppers their main target in 2017.

The RetailMeNot study is based on internal data collection findings from more than 500,000 offers for 50,000 retailers, including insights from millions of consumers. Forecasting models for 2017 predictions are based on data and statistics pulled from historical shopper insights in 2015 and 2016.

The NRF earlier this month said it expects holiday retail sales in November and December — excluding automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — to increase between 3.6% and 4.0% to $678.75 billion to $682 billion, from $655.8 billion last year.

The NRF acknowledged that the hurricanes that lashed the South in August and September might have an effect on consumer spending. But the association thinks a longer selling season and strong consumer confidence will lift holiday spending.

Christmas falls 32 days after Thanksgiving this year, one day more than in 2016. Also, it is on a Monday instead of Sunday, giving consumers an extra weekend day to complete their shopping. This year’s forecast would meet or exceed last year’s growth of 3.6% and the five-year average of 3.5%.

“Consumers continue to do the heavy lifting in supporting our economy, and all the fundamentals are aligned for them to continue doing so during the holidays,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “The combination of job creation, improved wages, tame inflation and an increase in net worth all provide the capacity and the confidence to spend.”