Online Becomes the #1 Sales Channel for 2014 Planned Holiday Shopping

Online Becomes the #1 Sales Channel for 2014 Planned Holiday Shopping

More consumers plan to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to start their holiday shopping, leading to a delayed start to the shopping season, according to the 2014 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey from global information company The NPD Group.

As of the time this study was fielded, 16 percent of consumers had already started their holiday shopping, versus 15 percent last year, with an additional 19 percent stating they plan to start shopping before Thanksgiving, compared to 22 percent last year. Eighteen percent claim they will start during Thanksgiving weekend, a sharp contrast to last year’s 13 percent. Among the consumers reporting that they will begin their shopping during Thanksgiving weekend, 12 percent plan to shop on Black Friday, while the remaining 6 percent plan to do their shopping on Saturday and/or Sunday.

“Consumers are anticipating the Thanksgiving weekend door-buster deals and other savings incentives, and as a result of their proven interest in special sales and deals, retailers last year began to open on Thanksgiving Day, with more stores jumping on this new tradition this year,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. “However, it’s important to keep in mind that this doesn’t mean more sales at the register. After all, how many more family members and friends do consumers need to shop for just because the stores decided to open earlier? How much more money do they have in their holiday budget because the stores started promoting earlier? This year we’ll see more shopping happening in the Thanksgiving zone, a deeper lull following, and finally a mad dash at the end for the last-minute shoppers.”

Holiday Forecast Merry and Bright for Online Retailers
Nearly 60 percent of consumers plan to do at least some of their holiday shopping online this year, making online the leading channel for holiday shopping. Women are more likely than men to shop online (62 percent versus 57 percent), as are those with children in the household.

Online is leading the way for consumers through all phases of their purchases, from pre-shopping homework to the checkout counter. Two-thirds of those who do pre-purchase research claim that they will utilize online research to learn more about products before making a holiday purchase, topping consumer reviews and television ads, among others. In addition to special sale prices and overall value, consumers list convenience and free shipping as top purchase drivers, tying into the online appeal.

“Online has truly become the place for consumers to start and finish their holiday shopping.  Last year we saw a mad dash at the end, with many consumers disappointed because gifts were delayed due to so much last minute online shopping. Hopefully stores and shippers learned from that mistake, and will be more prepared for the even bigger crush to come closer to the holidays this year,” said Cohen. “Until retailers drive the consumers back into the stores, online will continue to grow at a faster pace than traditional store shopping. The convenience and bargains offered online are too plentiful for the consumer to pass up.”

What’s in the Basket?
The majority of consumers intend to spend the same as or more than last year, and fewer reported that they plan to spend less (20 percent, compared to 22 percent in 2013).

The Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey objective is to better understand consumers’ spending intentions for the upcoming holiday season. An online survey was fielded in September 2014 to members of NPD’s online consumer panel. The survey was fielded to a US representative sample and completed by 3,537 individuals aged 18 and older.

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About The NPD Group, Inc.
The NPD Group provides global information and advisory services to drive better business decisions.  By combining unique data assets with unmatched industry expertise, we help our clients track their markets, understand consumers, and drive profitable growth.  Sectors covered include automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, entertainment, fashion, food / foodservice, home, luxury, mobile, office supplies, sports, technology, toys, and video games.  For more information, visit and Follow us on Twitter:@npdgroup