Chart showing when people start holiday shopping

When Do People Start Holiday Shopping?

With the year-end holiday season slated to hit record sales levels in 2023, after years of consecutive annual increases, it’s clear that this is a lucrative period for businesses. 

As a store owner, knowing when people begin to shop for the holidays ensures you get the most out of consumers’ increased shopping activity during these key months. This allows you to better reach your buyers when they’re most active. So when do people start holiday shopping? Here’s a breakdown.

When do people start holiday shopping?

According to a recent survey, the most popular time to start shopping for the holiday season in 2023 was before November. As many as 29% of consumers in the United States say this was when they planned to start purchasing holiday gifts for the year-end season. 

This is followed by the first three weeks of November, before the Thanksgiving period—specifically, from November 1 to November 22. More than one-quarter (26%) of people began their holiday shopping in this period. Shopping activities on Thanksgiving day itself appeared to be rather lulled, as just 6% of consumers say it’s when they decided to kick off their year-end shopping spree.

Black Friday, a single day capable of generating billions in sales year after year, was the third-most popular moment for consumers to begin holiday shopping—14% say it’s when they started to shop.

The study shows that as the end of November approached, the majority of shoppers (75%) had already started to purchase year-end presents. Of the remaining, 9% had planned to start the weekend after Thanksgiving, on November 25 and 26, and another 4% intended to do so on the Monday after Thanksgiving, also known as Cyber Monday (November 27). 

Just 3% of US shoppers planned to begin purchasing holiday gifts in the final three days of November, making it the least popular time to start holiday shopping. Another 9% of consumers left it late, choosing to begin shopping for the holidays only in December.

When do people start holiday shopping: Gen Z vs. baby boomers

Catering your year-end sales and marketing strategy to your target audience produces better results. To that end, it helps to know that while just 26% of Gen Z consumers began their holiday shopping before November, it was when as many as 38% of baby boomers preferred to start. 

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