How Will Retailers, Consumers Respond to Short Holiday Shopping Season? | Sponsored Content

This post was contributed and sponsored by RetailMeNot.


Want to know one big difference between this year's holiday shopping season and last year's? With Thanksgiving falling on November 28, the 2019 season is going to be a brief one. Compared with 2018, consumers will lose almost a week of shopping time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The shorter season will affect both shoppers and retailers, according to RetailMeNot's annual Holiday Insights guide, which delivers a comprehensive look at consumer behavior and retailer promotional strategies as we head into the holiday season.

Prime Day Claims Portion of Holiday Sales

One of the report’s key findings is that 55% of retailers will respond to this year’s abbreviated season by offering deeper discounts, and 54% will offer deals earlier than last year. How much earlier? Some 61% of retailers planned to release holiday deals in September, up from the 52% in 2018. These tactics should help retailers keep up with consumer expectations. More than two-thirds of shoppers (68%) said the compressed season will change the way they shop this year. About one-third (34%) said they will start looking for deals earlier than they did last year, and 28% plan to start buying gifts sooner than they did in 2018.

In fact, many shoppers got their holiday shopping under way back in July during the period around Amazon Prime Day. Of Prime Day shoppers, a large majority purchased a holiday gift from the ecommerce giant. As other retailers ran sales and promotions to take advantage of Prime Day online traffic, they also saw an influx of shoppers. And about 75% of those shoppers bought a holiday gift.

Black Friday Is Changing

We can expect to see the impact of Prime Day on Black Friday shopping. Consumers plan to spend an average of $738 during Cyber Weekend 2019, down $65 from last year’s average of $803. This is due to shoppers seeking deals earlier, especially around Prime Day. Consumers feel less pressure to shop on Black Friday only, knowing that they can find discounts at other times as well.

However, Black Friday still holds huge potential for retailers. It's predicted to be the top shopping day for 2019, with the Monday and Saturday of Cyber Weekend taking the No. 2 and No. 3 spots, respectively. Rounding out the rest of the top 10 predicted dates are (in order): Saturday, December 7; Saturday, December 21; Saturday, December 14; Sunday, December 1; Sunday, December 22; Thursday, November 28 (Thanksgiving Day); and Sunday, December 15.

Shoppers' Plans Take Shape

Where will consumers be headed when this abbreviated shopping season kicks off? 71% of shoppers will visit big-box stores like Target and Walmart. More than half said they'll hit e-commerce retailers like Amazon (54%) and department stores like Macy's or Kohl's (50%). Further, customers still value in-store experiences, with both big-box stores and department stores offering the ability to shop across online and offline channels. Where consumers decide to spend usually comes down to one big factor: deals. Seven in 10 shoppers said price is the biggest determining factor in their holiday purchasing.

The importance of deals and discounts is a clear theme in all of these findings. The retailers who succeed during this shortened season will be the ones who make it easy for stressed and time-crunched shoppers to find the best offers.