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BizReport : Ecommerce : October 06, 2008

62 million U.S. consumers start holiday shop early

Black Friday, traditionally the day when Americans begin their holiday shopping, is also known for being the day that retailer's balance sheets (hopefully) go in the black. But recent research shows that savvy shoppers are planning to do their holiday shopping much earlier, giving retailers a leg up earlier in the year.

by Helen Leggatt

According to new data from Mediamark Research & Intelligence (MRI), most holiday shoppers will begin their shopping after Thanksgiving. However, around a third, or 62.3 million adult consumers, plan to begin their shopping earlier this year.

"Black Friday may be the traditional start of the holiday shopping season, but - as many retailers have recognized - its strength has diminished as millions of Americans begin their shopping before Thanksgiving," said MRI in a recent announcement.

"Understanding who these consumers are and how best to reach them will give marketers a leg up in what is shaping up to a be a difficult holiday season for retailers."

So who are the consumers most likely to already be trawling your website for holiday shopping bargains?

Unsurprisingly, 62% are women and they are mostly from the Baby Boomer generation (38%).

The MRI data show that household income is not necessarily a driver for early holiday shopping, although indications are that those with children are likely to make up a large majority judging by the numbers of early shoppers purchasing toys.

Another somewhat surprising finding from the MRI research is that, despite starting their holiday shopping early, many (68.8%) gave gift cards, often seen as a last-minute "don't know what to get" solution. The increased flexibility and creative ways in which they can be presented and used, is obviously proving a hit with consumers again this year, as it did last.

Tags: Black Friday, gift cards, holiday season, holiday shopping, online shopping, Thanksgiving

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