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Kristina Tipton

Director, Market Research at Near

4 mins read

Holiday Shopping 2022: Americans are getting an early start and turning to omnichannel approaches for buying gifts

Christmas Day is still months away, but we may already be in the peak of holiday shopping season. With the challenging economy, Americans are keen to find deals this holiday season, and to do that they’re getting started early. And retailers are taking note. Amazon has expanded its popular Prime Day to a second sales event, the Prime Early Access Sale on October 11-12. Walmart has countered with their own sales event, “Rollbacks and More” October 10-13. Meanwhile, Costco began selling Christmas decor and gifts back in the peak of summer. 

To understand more about consumer behaviors around holiday shopping, retail preferences and more, Near Research surveyed over 600 U.S. consumers and 500 Australian consumers. We will be including the full results in our upcoming report, The New World of Consumer Behavior: Retail 2022. Here’s a sneak peek at the results from the U.S.

Most shoppers are starting before Black Friday, but that weekend is still relevant:

Shoppers are planning to get an early start – 66% of shoppers planned to start holiday shopping before Black Friday, and over a third (34%) plan to start shopping before the start of November.

  • Black Friday still marks a major milestone for 42% of respondents who confirmed they’re planning to do holiday shopping over the Black Friday weekend, with another 28% who weren’t sure yet.  
  • Notably, Black Friday isn’t as popular in the U.S. as it is in Australia, where a majority of shoppers (52%) are planning to shop around Black Friday.

U.S. consumers are embracing omnichannel shopping behaviors:

The responses showed that U.S. consumers are regularly shopping both online and in-store, and frequently make a purchase with a combination of online & in-store research & purchasing.

  • Respondents reported shopping online an average of 4.9 times in the past month, and shopping in stores 4.7 times in the past month.
  • Half of respondents (50%) said that they have used a combination of online and in-store shopping for a single purchase (either finding a product in-store and buying online, or researching online then buying in-store)
  • The top shopping behavior was shopping & buying online, followed by in-store:
Shopping Behavior

Americans are wary of the economy, but are planning to hold spend steady this holiday season:

While the economy is definitely weighing on the minds of most Americans, they are still planning to spend roughly the same as last year on average. They are also on the lookout for deals.

  • 25% of respondents say they plan to spend more this holiday season than last year, while 51% plan to spend the same amount. 24% plan to spend less than last year.  
  • However, 84% said they are factoring the state of the economy into their shopping plans, with 51% saying the economy is affecting their plans a little, and 33% saying it’s affecting their plans a lot.
  • 94% of shoppers say they’re taking steps to find bargains. The top approaches to finding deals are:
Deal-Seeking Behaviors

Big Box stores will get big business for holiday shopping:

Respondents ranked Big Box stores, like Target and Walmart, as their top place to do their holiday shopping. Warehouse Stores, Department Stores, Shopping Malls and Clothing Stores were also popular choices for shoppers. Despite 44% of respondents saying they’re planning to shop at bargain retailers to save money this year, Discount Stores were less favored for holiday shopping (22%).

Categories of stores where people are planning to do their holiday shopping:

Big Box Stores
(out-of-state visitors)

Warehouse Stores
(e.g. Costco, Sam's Club)

Shopping Malls

Small Businesses

Specialty Stores
(e.g. cosmetics, books)

Department Stores
(e.g. Macy's, JCPenney)

Clothing Stores
(e.g. Gap, American Eagle, Zara)

Discount Stores
(e.g. Dollar General, The Dollar Tree)

Implications for retailers:

To ensure a strong holiday shopping season, retailers should be taking some key steps now:

  • Prepare for shoppers to start early.  With more than a third of U.S. consumers starting holiday shopping before November 1, now is the time to increase supply and staffing, as well as offer bargains.
  • Deliver a cohesive shopping experience across in-store and digital platforms. With half of shoppers saying they’re using omnichannel approaches, such as researching online and buying in-store, it’s critical to make that experience seamless.
  • Offer Black Friday bargains. With 42% of respondents eager to shop and find deals over Black Friday to Cyber Monday, retailers should look to lure shoppers in with enticing offers.
  • Use data to deeply understand consumers and how to market to them.

With so many factors influencing consumer behavior, it’s critical to turn to data to understand their behavior in real-time. With human movement data, you can not only track these trends, but leverage data to maximize marketing spend through bespoke audience targeting, in-store footfall tracking, location-based targeting, and more.

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Methodology

Survey conducted August 17-22, 2022 with 634 in the United States and 509 respondents in Australia, Census-weighted by age, gender, income and region.

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