While Black Friday still dominates the holiday shopping season, more consumers say they’re getting started earlier in the year.
In fact, nearly one in five consumers say they start shopping as early as midsummer, while 29% say they get going by early fall, according to a new report from Bazaarvoice.
For its findings, the digital marketing firm said it surveyed 2,500 consumers from the United States, in addition to the U.K., France and Germany.
A majority of consumers (37%) still plan on doing most of their holiday shopping on Black Friday.
While far fewer expect to do most of their gift buying on Cyber Monday (19%), nearly two-thirds of consumers say they will complete the majority of their holiday shopping online.
Why aren’t more consumers doing their shopping online?
When it comes to online holiday shopping, shoppers’ biggest issues are the lengthy shipping times and slow order fulfillment (43%), followed by difficulty to decide between brand and product options (39%).
In-store, shoppers are overwhelmingly burdened by long checkout lines (75%) and messy/overcrowded stores (61%).
Consumers believe brands can improve the holiday shopping experience by improving convenience with experiences like self-checkout or buy online, pick up in store options (60%) and implementing faster, and more cost-efficient shipping solutions (57%).
Nearly half (49%) of consumers have returned a holiday gift in the past in order to exchange it for a different option, such as size or color.
To make sure they get the right gift, many shoppers check out user-generated content (UGC), such as ratings and reviews and question and answer tools, to learn more about products.
Last year, UGC interaction rates on brand and retailer websites in the Bazaarvoice Network increased ahead of major sales days, showing shoppers like to do their research early.During the holiday season, questions submitted increase by 26%; this spikes to 98% on Black Friday and to 110% on Cyber Monday.