Online Shopping Starts Well Before Black Friday

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is a critical moment for retailers to attract shoppers for what has become widely recognized as the official start of the holiday shopping season. But weekly trend data from Experian Simmons DataStream reveals that the seasonal rise in online purchasing now begins months before Black Friday, suggesting an opportunity for retailers to offer online-exclusive deals for shoppers as early as August.

In 2008, Simmons DataStream shows that Internet shopping reached a peak the week of December 22nd when 27% of U.S. adults bought something online. That same year, the seasonal upswing in online purchasing that resulted in that peak began the week of November 24th, the same week as Thanksgiving. However, in 2009, when online purchasing peaked the week of December 28th at 28%, the upswing began the week of September 28th, almost a full month before turkey day.

Seasonal Online Shopping Before Black Friday

This year, it appears that the seasonal increase in online purchasing began almost three months ago, the week of August 9, 2010. Of course, we don’t believe that this is an indication that holiday shopping is seriously starting in August—at least for the vast majority of Americans. But it does suggest that, as far as online purchasing goes, the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons have effectively merged with little to no break in between.

With consumer wallets still tight and online purchasing already on the rise, now may just be the time to begin seasonal deals.

For more information on Simmons DataStream weekly reporting of nearly 40,000 consumer variables, visit our website.