Holiday Procrastinators = Good News for Retailers

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) – Still have plenty of gift-shopping left to do? You’re not alone.

A new survey conducted last week by BIGresearch on behalf of the National Retail Federation found that the average American has only completed 49.5% of his or her holiday shopping. While it means that shoppers have fewer gifts left to buy than at the same point last year – when the average shopper had only bought 46.7% of their presents – it’s still good news for a retail sector that’s seen a roaring start to holiday sales.

Following a strong showing on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there was some fear among retailers that many of these early holiday shoppers had already completed the bulk of their shopping. The new study suggests that there are still plenty of sales to look forward to before Christmas, and the industry seems buoyed by the early returns. On Tuesday the NRF revised its previous projection of a 2.2% year-to-year increase in holiday sales and now predicts that holiday sales will increase by 3.3% over 2009. 

Still, there are fewer outright procrastinators than in years past – 16.9% haven’t started their holiday shopping, down from 19.1% last year. Similarly, the percentage of overachievers who have already finished their shopping rose to 10.1%, compared to 8.6% last year. That shift likely reflects better planning, renewed economic confidence, the pull of big early discounts, or a combination of those factors.

What is clear is that time is running out to beat the crowds of last-minute shoppers. A third of shoppers intend to finish by this Saturday, though a solid 11.9% plan to take things right down to the wire and buy their last gifts on Christmas Eve. So if you want to avoid that craziness, we suggest you hit the stores sooner rather than later … Or just stay at home and buy online.

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