If your clients are waiting to start their holiday marketing, you might want to send out the alert: According to ShopKick, holiday shopping is likely to start earlier this year. That’s good news for your clients…and for you. There is some other good holiday shopping news in here, too.

With many families missing out on holiday traditions last year, many are looking to make up for lost time. In a survey of 23,000 consumers in July 2021, ShopKick found that 22% of shoppers plan to start their holiday shopping earlier than last year. In addition, 43% are planning to shop in-store (compared to 9% last year), and 81% say they plan to spend the same amount or more than they did in 2020.

Here are some other expectations that will impact how consumers shop—and marketers market—this holiday season.

  • 41% of consumers plan to do more shopping online. This means incorporating more online deals into holiday promotions. Online perks and free shipping/returns are the biggest draws. But 43% plan to shop in physical stores, too, up 9% from last year. So signage and messaging promoting the benefits of in-store shopping (the ability to see, handle, and try on products) is going to be important.
  • 33% plan to spend less on frivolous purchases. Be sure to highlight the practical, as well as the lighthearted.
  • 31% plan to make fewer shopping trips. This means consolidating purchases into fewer retailers, so invest in wooing and retaining your best customers. Don’t risk losing them to “one stop shop” retailers like Target and Walmart (42% of respondents plan to do their holiday shopping at these stores because they can buy everything at one time).
  • 26% plan to support local business more than they normally would, and 15% plan to do less shopping in malls and large shopping centers.  Local businesses can tap into this expectation with marketing that plays on the “shop local” theme. For artistic and one-off gifts, position against Etsy, where Gen Z and Millennials plan to do much of their one-stop shopping.
  • 13% plan to do more BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) than they have in the past. Shops that offer that service should continue to promote it.

As of the survey, 64% of consumers plan to spend about the same amount on holiday shopping as they have in the past, but concern about the impact of the pandemic on finances is still reverberating. More than half (52%) say that the threat of continued inflation will impact their spending, and 21% say they plan to spend less overall. 

What is influencing what shoppers plan to buy? For 59% of consumers, requests from children, family members, and friends are the most influential, but ShopKick found that rewards (39%) and weekly circulars (30%) are big factors, too. Indeed, of those planning to start shopping earlier this year, 78% say that sales and promotions are the primary influencer. When you start those promotions matters.

More than half of consumers (52%) plan to do the majority of their gift shopping between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday. Only 14% will wait until after Cyber Monday to complete their shopping. Millennials and GenZs are the most likely to plan to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

Forty-three percent of consumers say they plan to shop in-store this season, a 9% increase from last year. Notably, 70% of those planning to shop in-store plan to do so for the ability to see, touch, and try on products. For retailers offering in-store try-on, this could be an effective aspect of their marketing messaging. Something other than discounts to bring in customers—what a win!

While this survey was conducted before the surge in coronavirus cases resulting from the delta variant, rising vaccination rates could offset any shopper concerns. As of this writing, more than half (53%) of the United States population was fully vaccinated, with many states with more than 60% of fully vaccinated residents and the percentage with at least one dose of a vaccine nearing or exceeding 70%. How this will play out during the holiday seasons remains to be seen, but with national vaccination rates now rising at .1%  per day—delta variant not withstanding—it could play out to be a very, very good season both for retailers and the PSPs who serve them.