2017 Holiday Gifting Trends: An Early Read

Gift box

We all have that Facebook friend who finished her holiday shopping in October, and shared Instagram stories of neatly wrapped gifts under a perfect tree (before we had even bought our Thanksgiving turkey). But how many people truly plan that far ahead? What about the rest of the population?

Here at InfoScout, we decided to survey 2,148 U.S. shoppers to find out when people start shopping, what they’re buying, what’s influencing their decisions, and how they plan to “wrap up” their holiday shopping.

Role Reversal: Can Walmart Catch Up to Amazon?
When survey participants were asked where they’ve purchased or plan to purchase holiday gifts this year, 79% claimed sites like Amazon or Jet.com. 68% said Walmart. Coming in third was Target, where 59% of respondents said they have purchased or plan to purchase gifts, followed by 52% from the websites of brick-and-mortar retailers (Walmart.com, Bestbuy.com, Target.com, etc.), and 32% from discount stores such as TJ Maxx and Marshall’s.

These figures reinforce the fact that online is king when it comes to holiday gift shopping. 48% of respondents plan to do more, most or all of their holiday gift shopping online, compared to just 22% of shoppers who plan to shop more, most, or all at brick-and-mortar stores. 30% plan to do about half of their shopping online and half in-store.

Amazon Holiday Shopping Isn’t Slowing Down
Just 15% of Amazon shoppers expect to spend less on holiday gifts from Amazon this year than last year. 62% plan to spend about the same, and 22% plan to spend more. When those planning to spend more were asked why, the top four responses involved convenience and ease. Reasons five through seven involved good deals and pricing.

Retailer Promotions Kickstart Holiday Shopping
When respondents were asked why they got the ball rolling before Thanksgiving, promotions were far and away the biggest drivers of early holiday shopping. 47% were influenced by online promotions, while 44% were influenced by in-store promotions.

But despite retailers’ best efforts to get people shopping earlier, it appears that shopping timelines haven’t changed much over past three years.

Just 27% of respondents hadn’t purchased a holiday gift before Thanksgiving. In fact, 38% were done with at least half of their holiday shopping by the time they sat down to eat turkey, and 3% were completely done! However, more than a quarter (27%) say that they won’t finish until the week before Christmas.


Good Ol’ Fashioned Shopping Lists
Despite the growth of eCommerce and availability of digital planning tools and apps, 58% of shoppers still make a written list. Fewer than one quarter (24%) make a digital list. This year, only 2% are making their list over an Amazon Echo or Google Home, but we expect that number to rise in years to come, as voice-enabled devices become prevalent in more homes, and as people become more comfortable using these features.

The Usual Suspects (Electronics & Toys)
More than six in 10 holiday gift shoppers have electronics (65%) and toys (63%) on their lists. Home and garden items are a distant third at 35%.

The top electronics and accessories that shoppers have bought or plan to buy are video games and gaming consoles (40%), followed by headphones (31%), tablets (29%), wearable technology such as fitness trackers and smart watches (24%), TVs (23%), computers/laptops (22%), and cell phones (22%).

Voice-enabled smart speakers, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, are growing in popularity, but only 14% of respondents have these devices on their holiday gift shopping lists for 2017. Not surprisingly, GPS units (3%) have plummeted in popularity, with the rise of smartphones and mobile apps that can fulfill the same purpose.

Move over, Fidget Spinners. Educational toys rule.

The top three toy categories are learning and development (45%), puzzles and board games (44%), building toys (36%), and arts and crafts (35.9%). Traditional gifts such as dolls (34%), stuffed animals (28%), action figures (27%), and electronic toys (27%) make up the next tier. Shoppers seem to be valuing mental stimulation and creativity in toy purchases, which could be the result of the push for STEM education.

Holiday Spending: Strong, but Calculated
This year, 69% of respondents expect to spend at least as much as they did on holiday gifts last year. Just 12% plan to spend much less. 87% will spend at least $250, and 50% will spend $250-$750 on holiday gifts.

But even though the majority of shoppers will be spending hundreds of dollars this holiday season, it doesn’t mean they aren’t budget-conscious. Almost two-thirds of shoppers (61%) set aside money specifically for holiday gifts. And despite the growth of eCommerce and the perceived shift towards cashless commerce, almost as many shoppers are using cash (51%) and checks (53%) as credit cards (56%).

Want to hear more about holiday gift shoppers? Stay tuned for another status check on holiday shopping and see how the last-minute gift shoppers are choosing to spend their dollars.

About the Data
More than 300,000 Americans snap pictures of their everyday shopping receipts via InfoScout’s mobile apps. Throughout the 2017 holiday shopping season, InfoScout’s team of researchers will be analyzing real-time data from millions of omnichannel shopping trips. This data is mapped to shopper profile data, instantly triggered surveys, and more to provide the richest set of shopper insights available.

For more information, please contact press@infoscoutinc.com.