Personal Finance

The American Holiday Shopper Is Starting Early

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More than half of Americans plan to spend the same amount or more money on holiday shopping than they did last year, according to a new survey out from digital coupon site RetailMeNot. But that doesn’t mean they’re not planning their holiday purchase strategy.

At the time of the survey, which was conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs from June 10 to 24, Americans were more concerned about the coming costs of holiday shopping than shoppers in the other 10 countries surveyed, with one in four Americans worried about the expense. The online survey questioned 10,009 adults across Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Great Britain, India, China and the United States.

While 56% of Americans said they’d likely spend the same or more than last year, shoppers in other countries seemed more likely to up their spending. Of the Americans surveyed, just 8% said they’d spend more this year. Compare that with China and India’s shoppers; 29% and 27%, respectively, said they’d increase their spending. Internationally, about 9% of shoppers plan to spend more, putting the U.S. below average.

In fact, a significant portion of American shoppers said they plan to reduce holiday spending. Italians were the most likely to save, with 45% saying they planned to cut down on gift buying, but more than a third of shoppers in Australia (37%), Great Britain (36%), the U.S. (35%) and France (35%) also plan to do so.

The Early Bird Gets the Worm

Whether or not it helps them save money, Americans reported strong financial planning habits when it comes to holiday shopping, with 40% saying they planned to start shopping for December holidays before October. Furthermore, 22% of Americans said they shop year-round to spread out holiday shopping costs. Only adults in Australia and India reported a higher share of pre-October shoppers, at 42% and 41%, respectively. Italians provided an interesting contrast, with 18% waiting until after the holidays to shop, with 5% as the international average.

Like early shopping, online shopping doesn’t necessarily translate into saving money on specific goods, but it can help cut down time spent and travel costs. While online shopping is most prevalent in China, with 99% planning to shop online for some gifts, 90% of Americans will use e-commerce this year. Not too many Americans plan to do the majority of their shopping online, though, with 24% saying they’ll buy more than half of their holiday purchases on the Internet.

On the high end of that scale, 44% of Britons, 40% of Chinese and 33% of Germans plan to do the majority of their shopping online. The Dutch, Italians and Canadians were least likely to shop online at all.

Based on these numbers, it seems Americans plan to take a balanced approach to holiday shopping, perhaps prioritizing deal-finding over the convenience of online shopping. The fact that so many planned to start shopping early is a good sign, because it’s easy to get caught up in a holiday shopping frenzy, which can lead to unpleasant bills come January. Even if consumers haven’t started shopping, having a plan is an important part of holiday shopping — the most important part is sticking to the budget.

Image: iStock

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