Written by Michelle Shaffer, BBB Oregon Regional Manager
I am a last minute holiday shopper. If you are like me, you might have received recommendations for a good twelve step program after such an admission. “I haven’t done my holiday shopping yet” is a statement often met with a gasp if it’s already mid-December, followed by a guilt trip. One friend, and fellow late shopper, came to me, head hung in shame, after her neighbor boasted that every gift was purchased before Thanksgiving and the dough for her homemade holiday cookies was already prepared. Though your neighbors may subtly and not so subtly deem your delayed shopping behavior as deplorable, I urge you not to feel bad. First, you are not alone. (Really this isn’t a 12 step program in disguise) In fact, as of December 15th only 10 percent of holiday shoppers (22.6 million people) said they were finished, according to the National Retail Federation. That means 90 percent of holiday shoppers still have holiday items to buy. You no longer need to feel that this practice of waiting to shop is an affliction or that you are Scrooge. Retailers are actually responding with greater accommodations for this population of last minute shoppers with everything from greater discounts on merchandise late in the season, to staying open 24 hours a day through Christmas Eve, as is the case with Kohl’s this year. With perks like these, more and more consumers are wondering what the early holiday rush is all about. Here are some benefits to not getting the shopping done early:
- Stay Home. With cyber sales surpassing in-store sales in recent years, it’s clear that consumers aren’t in a rush to go Retailers are responding to our desire to avoid the store crowds by offering free, and same day shipping. Some online retailers like Amazon are providing free, same day shipping as late as December 24th.
- Less Stress. For those who are overwhelmed by options, late holiday shopping can be a solution. If time is of the essence, purchasing decisions have to be made rather quickly. This can be a no brainer if you know the recipient well, but even if you don’t, the holidays are a perfect season for a quick, gift-worthy find. Basic items are packaged in holiday flair that requires no additional wrapping! Even a canister of nuts is made more attractive this time of year! If you have multiple people to buy for, one stop shopping at stores like Target, allows you to focus your efforts in one place rather than traveling from store to store.
- No Buyers Remorse. When shopping early, there’s the potential an item you declined to purchase, due to price, will see a price slash later in December. Many retailers have adjusted inventory so items are not sold out before Christmas like consumers experienced years ago. Waiting until later to shop offers the peace of mind that there is little other option at this point; there’s no thinking ‘something better might come along’.
- Save Money. Many retailers are not retracting deals that were advertised much earlier in the season. Some early bird shoppers admit, the continuing holiday deals keep them spending, purchasing more merchandise weeks after they crossed the last name off their shopping list!
Eager to please retailers catering to later shoppers suggest the tradition is catching on. The day is coming when consumers will proudly proclaim “I will be doing my holiday shopping later” rather than sheepishly confessing “I haven’t started shopping yet.” Adjectives describing the late shopper may even change from “lazy” and “neglectful” to “patient” and “contentious.” Why not start today? No additional corrective steps necessary.