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Holiday Season Survey: Shoppers to Buy More Online

Consumers will start shopping early, buy for themselves.

More shoppers will buy online during this year’s holiday season than any before.

That’s just one of the findings in the National Retail Federation’s latest survey on expected spending behaviors for the upcoming holiday season. The survey also finds that the economy will influence some shoppers’ spending, and that buyers will start buying early to find good deals. However, they’ll also pamper themselves as they mark people off their shopping lists.

“We’ve seen this pattern of cautious optimism all year, and—despite the challenges that still exist in our economy—it looks as if consumers are eager to celebrate with friends and family,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF.

In all, buyers are expected to spend an average of $749.51 on holiday items, less than a $10-increase compared to last year. Shoppers will spend the biggest portion of their holiday budgets on family members, shelling out an average of $421.82 on them, $75.13 on friends, $23.48 on co-workers and $28.13 on others.

In all, holiday sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent, reaching $586 billion, NRF reports.

More consumers to buy online

59 percent of shoppers are expected to take advantage of holiday sales to buy gifts for themselves this year

The survey, conducted by BIGinsight, adds that 51.8 percent of shoppers will buy gifts online this holiday season, up from last year’s 46.7 percent total—and a new high for the report. But not only will more consumers make purchases from their laptops, desktops and mobile devices this year, they’ll also spend more online.

According to the survey, shoppers will make 40 percent of their holiday purchases online. predicts online spending will grow 12 percent, reaching $96 billion.

Shoppers to buy early

The survey also finds that shoppers will start buying early, and they’ll compare prices. About 41 percent say they’ll start marking people off their gift lists before Halloween, about 39 percent say they’ll start buying in November, 16.2 percent say they’ll buy in the first two weeks of December and 3.5 percent will wait until the last two weeks of that month.

About 12 percent are reported to have started buying for the holiday season in September, with another 22 percent saying they started before then.

Shoppers still cautious, but ready to spend

The economy is expected to influence buyers as they shop, but not as much as in previous years, according to the study. It finds that shoppers are getting used to tightening their belts around this time of year by clipping coupons and looking for sales. As a result, 52.3 percent say the economy will influence their spending, down nearly 10 percent from last year.

The decrease could be one reason why shoppers are expected to pick something up for themselves during their holiday shopping. An estimated 59 percent of shoppers are expected to take advantage of holiday sales to buy gifts for themselves this year—the highest percentage in the survey’s 10-year history. On average, shoppers will spend $139.92 on self-gifts, the report finds.

About the author

Olga Munoz
Olga Munoz is editor of In addition to writing news and feature articles about e-commerce, selling trends, online marketing and other topics of interest to online sellers, Olga manages the site's social media efforts. A journalism graduate of Chico State, Olga says her favorite part of being a journalist is learning interesting facts that help put stories into perspective, attending industry events and meeting interesting people "that leave you smiling, even in tough situations." Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

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