3 trends heading into the final holiday shopping weekend

Despite my best efforts, I’m usually one of those people still shopping the last weekend before Christmas. But this year, I’ll be in good company — most consumers are in the same boat: More than six in 10 holiday shoppers are planning on purchasing their last holiday gift during the week before Christmas Day (December 18 – 24), according to the latest NRF consumer survey conducted with Prosper Insights & Analytics.

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In fact, “Super Saturday,” the last Saturday before Christmas, is estimated to be the single biggest day of the year for retailers, with 53 percent of consumers— about 126 million people — finishing up their shopping. Retailers still have a few tricks up their sleeve to attract customers through the end of the season. To find out what’s grabbing the attention of these procrastinators, the NRF Research team dove into our holiday research conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics; we also partnered with Toluna to conduct a flash poll of 1,000 Generation Z and Millennial consumers to get a better picture of younger shoppers. Here are three insights we discovered.

Younger consumers still have the most shopping left to do.

By the end of November, most consumers had made a significant dent in their holiday shopping. However, compared with other age groups, younger consumers — those between the ages of 18 and 24 — are the most likely age group to wait until December to complete the majority of their holiday shopping: 51 percent of 18-24 year olds still had the majority of their holiday shopping left to do.

Why the slow progress? More than half of them say they just can’t make a decision. For those with more than half of their shopping left to do, 50 percent say they are “still figuring out what to buy” and 39 percent say they are just procrastinators.

The retailer takeaway: Gift guides and curated lists are one way retailers and brands can focus on helping these younger shoppers out. We’ve seen many instances of this tactic from retailers like Nordstrom, publications such as Refinery 29’s gift guide and social platforms like Pinterest’s Secret Santa wish list.

Shoppers are “window shopping” everywhere.

For today’s shoppers, window shopping doesn’t just take place in in the store or in the mall. Holiday shoppers are browsing online, researching on their mobile devices and turning to search for gifting inspiration.

Overall, half of holiday shoppers are using online search for gifting inspiration this year. For younger consumers, that number is even higher: 59 percent of those 18-24 and 57 percent of those 25-34 planned on using online search for gifting inspiration.

Plus, they’re searching over and over. According to the flash poll conducted by Toluna, 84 percent of Gen Zers and Millennials say they typically search for items more than once before making their purchase.

The retailer takeaway: This is good news for retailers who have more than one opportunity to engage customers on their path to purchase. For retailers looking to engage consumers within this two- to three-day window, retargeting ads and investing in key search words can be an important tool. The same flash poll found that 43 percent of Gen Zers and Millennials recalled purchasing something because of a retargeting ad. 

It’s about so much more than shopping.

Even as shoppers search for last minute gifts, they’re embracing the spirit of the season. When it comes to shopping during the holidays, most young consumers view it as an enjoyable experience. According to Toluna’s research, the majority (73 percent) of Gen Zers and Millennials said they enjoy shopping more during the holidays compared with the rest of the year.

What do they specifically enjoy about shopping during this time of year? More than three quarters (76 percent) of Millennials and Gen Zers said it’s about browsing or seeing what’s out there. Many (70 percent) also enjoy the experience of holiday shopping with friends.

However, Millennials are much more likely than Gen Zers to say they enjoy dining out while shopping during this time of year: 69 percent of Millennials said they enjoy grabbing a bite to eat while shopping more during the holidays compared with the rest of the year, compared with just 44 percent of Gen Zers.

The retailer takeaway: Retailers looking to engage younger shoppers need to remember the overall experience. Festive decorations and displays, in-store events that can be enjoyed with family or friends or pop-ups where consumers can interact with new products or brands can all play a part in shoppers’ enjoyment of the season.