While kids are likely asking friends what they are going to dress up as this weekend for Halloween, families, shoppers and retailers are asking other questions.
Have you started your planning and shopping for Thanksgiving and Christmas?
It is not uncommon for retailers to get a jump on the next big holiday early, this year consumers also might want to start thinking about starting their holiday shopping early too.
Consumers plan to spend $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to the annual survey released last week by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics. Despite the continued supply chain disruption, this is on par with consumer spending last year.
The survey asked 7,921 consumers about winter holiday shopping plans. It was conducted Oct. 1 to Oct. 10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.
This year, 90% of US adults plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, up from 87% last year, according to the NRF.
Similar to last year, the NRF reported consumers are prioritizing gifts for family and friends and purchases related to holiday celebrations such as food or décor. Overall plans for holiday spending remain slightly below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83 in 2019, as fewer consumers plan to spend on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.
While nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts during the holiday season to make non-gift purchases, they plan to spend an average of $118.41 on these items, according to the NRF.
In contrast, in 2019, 60% planned to make these types of purchases and expected to spend $162.02. As many continue to work from home, the NRF reported shoppers are also less inclined to purchase gifts for co-workers.
However, consumers are motivated to check items off their lists earlier than ever. Half (49%) of holiday shoppers will start browsing and buying before November, up from 42% in 2020 and the highest in the survey’s history, the NRF reported. Among those shopping in October or earlier, 47% say they want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and another 36% do not want to miss out on key holiday items.
The supply chain challenges that have been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic are top of mind for consumers, according to the NRF. Nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers are concerned they will have difficulty finding items this year. The top items they are worried about finding are electronics (44%), clothes (40%) and toys (28%).
Local retailers in downtown Cadillac are not seeing that trend, yet.
Serendipity owner Michele Bosscher and Blossom Boutique owner Jamie Prince there hasn’t been a huge increase of early holiday shoppers. They also said they are not experiencing big supply chain issues.
“I can’t say I have seen people doing a bunch of early Christmas shopping, but they are starting,” Bosscher said.
Bosscher also said so far this year has been a good one and there haven’t been any issues with the supply chain. She attributes that to her store ordering from a vast array of different companies she orders from. As a result, they might have smaller orders than normal, but they have the product in.
“We have found our work-a-around (supply chain issues). Because we work with so many vendors, someone always has something,” she said. “We might have to use more suppliers to keep the same amount of inventory, but we are able to get our hands on it. I don’t think it will dry up and I don’t envision it being an issue.”
It’s a similar story for Prince.
While she admitted it has been somewhat trickier, Prince said supply chain issues haven’t had much of an impact before now. For that reason, Prince said she is not seeing a big increase in early holiday shoppers, but they are starting. With things more opened up this year compared to last, Prince also believes the holiday shopping season will be closer to normal, including Black Friday and Small Business Saturday.
Prince said, however, moving forward there could be supply chain issues but that remains to be seen.
“It might be easier to get more product in during the holidays but at the beginning of the New Year there could be an impact,” Prince said.
Retailers aren’t the only ones stressing early planning this holiday season. A AAA survey is showing almost half of Michigan residents who plan to travel during the holidays are already scheduling their trips.
The AAA Consumer Pulse Survey was conducted online among residents living in Michigan from Sept. 15 to Sept. 22. A total of 400 residents completed the survey. Survey results asked of all respondents have a maximum margin of error of ± 4.9% points. Responses are weighted by age and gender to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Michigan.
Michigan residents have begun making their travel plans for the holiday season. According to a new AAA Travel survey, nearly half (46%) of residents book their holiday trips by the end of October.
“Time is of the essence for people who plan to take a flight this holiday season,” Debbie Haas, AAA vice president of travel. “As we get closer to the holidays, airfares often rise as availability shrinks. We recommend you book by Halloween, for the best chance of finding the flight you want at a favorable rate.”
Haas also said recently there have been numerous flight delays and cancellations and more are possible during the upcoming holidays. If a person is planning a flight, Haas said they may want to consider travel insurance.
The recent survey also showed two-in-five (41%) Michigan residents plan to take a vacation of three days or more during the 2021 holiday season. Meanwhile, 10% have not yet decided. About a third (36%) of Michigan residents without holiday travel plans are staying home for fear of contracting or spreading COVID-19.
Compared to last year, when a vaccine wasn’t available, 38% of Michiganders are more comfortable traveling this holiday season. Meanwhile, two-in-five (41%) feel the same as last year.
Traveler confidence took a step back this quarter, following a resurgence in COVID-19 cases, brought on by the Delta variant. This year, the percentage of Michigan residents who are comfortable traveling rebounded from 45% in Q2 to 72% in Q3, yet slipped back to 63% in our Q4 survey — fielded in September.
Although traveler confidence hit a snag, enthusiasm could rebound through the end of the year. COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are trending lower again, which is what 41% of Michigan residents said would need to happen to feel more comfortable traveling.