3 ways consumers are continuing to shop after the holidays

It’s still the most wonderful time of the year
VP, Industry and Consumer Insights

The presents may be unwrapped. The guests may be heading home. And the decorations may be coming down. But the holiday shopping season is far from over. In fact, for many consumers, the weeks following the December holidays are a chance to exchange unwanted gifts and score some last deals before those New Year’s resolutions kick in. To help retailers understand what to expect from this year’s post-holiday shopping rush, the NRF research team identified three trends on what gets these consumers in stores and online at the end of the season.

Post-holiday shopping: Everyone is doing it

This year, more than two-thirds (68%) of holiday shoppers say they plan to continue browsing and buying in the week after December 25. Younger consumers are particularly willing to brave the post-holiday shopping crowds — more than 80 percent of those aged 18-24 say they plan to shop between December 26 and January 1. What keeps these shoppers engaged? More than half (51%) say sales and promotions get them to shop during the final week of the year.

Those gift cards won’t spend themselves

In addition to taking advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions, more than a quarter (27%) of holiday shoppers also plan to use the week after Christmas to use their gift cards. This jumps up to 41 percent for shoppers under the age of 35, which includes most millennials and the oldest Gen Zers. For many, post-holiday sales and discounts are a chance to stretch the value of their gift cards even further: 39 percent of shoppers between the ages of 18 and 24 and 44 percent of those aged 25-34 say they typically watch for sales and promotions to get more bang for their gift card bucks.

Tell me what you really want

No matter how many gift guides, digital wish lists or direct hints consumers drop to their loved ones, an unwanted present or two is inevitable. In fact, 58 percent of holiday shoppers say they expect they will need to return or exchange holiday gifts this year. The vast majority of those who will make returns will do within the first month of the post-holiday season.


In terms of how shoppers will make their returns, nearly all (84%) plan to head to the store rather than online. The good news for retailers is that customers are not just planning to come in to unload or swap out their unwanted gifts: More than three-quarters (77%) say they are likely to make additional purchases at a retailer or brand while they're processing a return.

Whether shoppers are making returns or looking to find a deal, there are plenty of opportunities for retailers and brands to continue engaging them even as the holiday season ends. To learn more about what drives shoppers during the Winter Holidays and beyond, visit NRF’s Holiday Headquarters.

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