Early Signs Point to Robust Holiday Shopping

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Holiday sales in 2018 are expected to outpace those of last year's season, and retailers plan to start early with efforts to capture the attention of shoppers who are ready to spend. The 2018 Holiday Insights Guide by RetailMeNot provides key trends and insights to help retailers better engage shoppers throughout the entire season and, ultimately, drive higher holiday revenue. Here are four key takeaways to keep in mind as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year.

Retailers and Shoppers Feel Optimistic

Competition for holiday shoppers is stronger than ever, as 86 percent of respondents feel more pressure to compete with Amazon.com during the holiday season than at other times of the year. However, that doesn't seem to be dimming retailers positivity. Sixty percent feel optimistic that they will top their holiday 2017 performance this year.

Consumers are in high spirits, too, this holiday season. On Black Friday weekend alone, they plan to spend $803, up from $743 in 2017. Shoppers credit their growing willingness to spend on factors such as increased wages and instilled confidence in the economy.

These findings also echo Deloitte’s annual retail holiday sales forecast, which predicts that sales will increase from 5.0 percent to 5.6 percent over 2018.

Consumers Want Deals and Will Start Shopping Early

While shoppers plan to spend more, they also want the biggest bang for their holiday buck. Eighty-seven percent of consumers in the RetailMeNot survey said they will search for deals when shopping for holiday gifts. Additionally, 60 percent of consumers plan to start shopping for deals before Black Friday.

Retailers are taking note. Almost all retailers (95 percent) said deals and discounts are more effective at driving purchases during the holidays than at other times of the year, and 74 percent plan to begin their marketing efforts earlier this year. Black Friday messaging from retailers, in particular, is expected to start around Nov. 1. Retailers can also anticipate an uptick in consumer traffic starting on this date and extending throughout the rest of the holiday season.

While sales will start heating up in early November, the busiest shopping days of the season will begin hitting later this month. The top mobile shopping days tend to fall on weekends, with desktop shopping stronger on weekdays.

  1. Nov. 23 (Black Friday)
  2. Nov. 26 (Cyber Monday)
  3. Nov. 24 (Black Saturday)
  4. Sat., Dec. 15
  5. Sat., Dec 1

Top 5 Projected Desktop Shopping Days

  1. Nov. 26 (Cyber Monday)
  2. Nov. 23 (Black Friday)
  3. Nov. 25 (Cyber Sunday)
  4. Mon., Dec. 10
  5. Nov. 22 (Thanksgiving)

Deals Shift Throughout the Season

In the early part of the shopping season (Nov. 1-20), the top deal categories will be travel, food and entertainment, as well as home and garden. During Cyber Week (Nov. 21-26), deals will shift to computers/electronics, clothing, and shoes.

December brings deals on accessories, sports and fitness, toys and gifts for kids. Additionally, in the final run-up to Christmas (Dec. 16-24), the top deals can be found in books, health and beauty, gifts and accessories, and designer clothing.

Overall, the 2018 holiday season holds huge promise for retailers looking to maximize their marketing strategy and lean in to these potential opportunities for connecting with new audiences.

Marissa Tarleton is the chief marketing officer at RetailMeNot, a site offering coupons, promo codes, sales, cash-back offers, and gift card deals for thousands of stores and brands..