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Holiday Shopping Will Start Earlier Than Ever. You’ll Never Guess Why

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The Halloween aisle at the (big-box store of your choice here) is already so picked over, children will be reduced to trick-or-treating in Minion T-shirts. And now, onto bigger holidays. Every catalog that fills your mailbox will be hawking all things mistletoe and cranberry.

Indeed, according to research from coupon site RetailMeNot, 80 percent of retailers say they’re launching their holiday shopping season earlier than ever before — and it’s not their idea. It’s your fault. According to the research, Americans want their holidays sales right now.

This isn’t a shocking trend. In 2016, reported that, “Almost 40 percent of millennials have started holiday shopping before summer is even over.” That’s mostly because shopping online is so much easier than fighting through those holiday displays at the local department store.

In fact, RetailMeNot says 56 percent of shoppers plan to buy on Cyber Monday, up from 39 percent last year. That means “the holiday shopping weekend of Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday will likely now expand into two full weeks of deals,” RetailMeNot reports.

RetailMeNot even came up with a name for this slowly but steadily growing phenomenon: “Christmas Creep.” Says Marissa Tarleton, RetailMeNot’s chief marketing officer…

With the expanded shopping season this year, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer single-focus days. It’s now a two-week-long promotional opportunity. Not only are these two days as important as ever, retailers must consider how to win the two-week period.

What lengths will retailers go to “win”?

Expect what’s known in the retail business as “pulses.” These are mini-sales within the holiday shopping season, sometimes lasting three days. Also expect retailers to offer broader ranges of products and to be less niche.

RetailMeNot’s research — which was conducted for retailers and not shoppers — recommends, “Retailers should prepare now to diversify their content and deals to catch attention over the longer period of time.”

Other surprising stats

This latest research didn’t just delve into when we’ll start shopping, but also how much we’ll spend — on average $238 more than last year. The typical holiday bill is expected to ring in at $743, up from $505 in 2016.

Also consider…

This year’s holiday season also gives shoppers an extra Saturday before Christmas Eve— meaning the deals will keep coming, especially for last-minute gifts in-store. In fact, 4 in 10 retailers are setting aside more than a quarter of their overall holiday marketing budget for last-minute promotional activity.

So while many holiday shoppers are starting earlier than ever, retailers are also planning for more procrastinating shoppers to show up right at the gift-giving deadline. That means the holiday shopping commercials won’t just begin sooner, they will end later.

If this depresses you, take heart. In 2013, tracked down an ad that appeared in a South Carolina newspaper on Nov. 19, 1885, as well as complaints in the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer that seasonal gift buying “appears to get earlier every year.”

So this is a trend that has been a long time coming. The real question is: How much further can it go?


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