Hopping On The Holiday: Most Consumers Plan To Shop Early

It may already be too late for brands to get their holiday email programs into place. A new study by Fluent finds that 28% of U.S. shoppers plan to stop before November, and that 52% will do so before Black Friday.  

That doesn’t mean there is a bonanza in store for companies that act early: Only 32% of U.S. consumers plan to spend more than they did last holiday season, and 17% will do much more. 

But 78% plan to do at least some of their shopping online, and 22% expect to do more than they did last year. 

Younger people will lead the way: 52% of those ages 18-24 plan to spend more this year, along with 49% in the 24-34 cohort. In contrast, 38% of shoppers  age 35-44 and 34% of those ages  44-54 will do the same, compared to only 10% of those 55+. However, the older shoppers may be expected to spend more.  

What is driving consumers? 

Home delivery is preferred by 70%, curbside pickup by 24% and BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In Store) by 12%. 



But here’s a tip for companies trying to lure people into stores: 71% of consumers will check online to see if a product is in stock before visiting the store. And 72% will purchase an out-of-stock item 

What’s appeals most to shoppers? Free shipping and fast shipping. Of those polled, 70% say that free shipping is important when choosing one retailer over another. And speed is also key, especially given that Christmas falls on a Saturday for the first time in a decade. This means “less last minute in-store shopping and more pressure on fast shipping.”

Just how fast do shoppers want delivery? Here’s the answer:

1-2 Hours — 45%

Same Day — 51%

Next Day — 60%

Two-Day — 67%

But there’s little margin for error—56% say delivery delays will negatively affect future purchases.  

And when picking up, 51% say the online order should be ready in 30 minutes or less. 

However, 47% of U.S. shoppers are willing to pay for 1-2 hour delivery, 49% for same day and 48% for next day.  

Then there’s returns. 

Before they buy, 55% check for an extended holiday return policy, and 77% deem it important that they can return an online order to a physical store.  

The U.S. results are roughly in line with those for the UK: 21% of UK consumers plan to start their holiday shopping prior to November, and 42% before Black Friday. And 22% expect to spend more than last year.  

Moreover, 86% will do at least some of their buying online, but only 16% are increasing it.  

And, 79% prefer home delivery, compared to only 9% who like click & collect outside and 18% who want click & collect inside. 

Fluent surveyed 500 U.S. and 500 UK consumers in September 2021. 

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