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NPD Predicts Delayed Start to Holiday Shopping Season

NPD GroupPORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.-More consumers plan to wait until Thanksgiving weekend to start their holiday shopping, leading to a delayed start to the shopping season, according to a survey by The NPD Group.

According to the 2014 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey conducted in September, 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, in 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 for NPD. "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."

NPD also surveyed online shopping intent. 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, according to NPD. "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.