Shoppers Get Earlier Start on Holiday Spending

More consumers are buying the bulk of their gifts by Cyber Monday

Author: Krista Garcia

August 24, 2018

Now that kids are heading back to school, retailers are focusing on the next—and biggest—holiday shopping season. But are consumers thinking about the most wonderful time of the year, too?

They might not be focusing on holiday shopping in August, but according to newly released comScore Inc. data, retail spending is creeping earlier into the season. The period between Thanksgiving and what the researcher is calling "Cyber Tuesday" has taken an increasingly larger share of online holiday spending over the past few years. 

Those six days accounted for 16.2% of ecommerce holiday spend via desktop in 2015, and last year that figure rose to 17.7%. This is even more significant considering that 2017 had three more shopping days post-Thanksgiving than in 2015. 

Part of this shift in spending is because retailers are now concentrating more sales around Thanksgiving, and consumers have come to expect that. Also, shoppers might not be purely holiday shopping in November but taking advantage of sales for personal purchases.

The biggest jump in holiday retail ecommerce sales last year occurred on Cyber Monday, according to comScore. Sales grew 26% to $3.36 billion, compared with a 15% growth rate for Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. 

Adobe also reported that Cyber Monday was the highest retail ecommerce sales day during the 2017 holiday season, pegging the total at $6.6 billion, double comScore's figure. The main difference is that comScore excludes mobile. Adobe attributed $1.4 billion in sales to smartphones and $600 million to tablets. 

This movement toward shopping earlier in the season is corroborated by a TrendSource survey that shows 54% of internet users in North America completed the bulk of their 2017 holiday shopping by Cyber Monday.

The youngest age group, however, had the largest number (61%) who did their shopping after Cyber Monday, a factor retailers could take into consideration when allocating marketing budgets.

This trend might not be consistent across all demographics. It's conceivable that older internet users have more people—especially children—to shop for and be in a financial position to plan ahead.