U.S. Holiday Shoppers Are Shopping In-Store Earlier, Too (But In Less Numbers)

A week ago, we discussed the trend towards consumers getting an earlier start on holiday shopping online ahead of the winter holidays.

In our research using weekly trend data from Experian Simmons DataStream, we noticed a similar trend when examining consumer behavior related to conducting shopping research online as well as shopping at brick-and-mortar malls and strip malls. In 2008, for example, Simmons DataStream shows that the percent of U.S. consumers gathering shopping information online began to increase the week of October 6th. In 2009, however, the seasonal increase in online information gathering for shopping was already on its way up the week of September 14th.

Meantime, the share of U.S. consumers visiting shopping malls and strip malls in 2008 started increasing November 17th, but in 2009 Simmons DataStream shows the uptick starting November 2nd.

In addition to an earlier start to the holiday shopping season we have observed further changes in consumers’ online and offline shopping behaviors in recent years. Specifically, in comparing the three weeks before Thanksgiving year-over-year, we found that the percent of consumers gathering shopping information online increased by 11% between 2008 and 2009. However, looking at the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, we see that the percent of Americans gathering shopping information online decreased by 3% between 2008 and 2009. Also, when comparing 2009 to 2008, there was a 3% decrease in the percent of consumers shopping at malls or strip malls before Thanksgiving and a 5% decrease after Thanksgiving.

There has been an overall 17% decrease among U.S. consumers shopping at malls and strip malls over the past two and a half years.

In other words, the rise in online research and the earlier seasonal start has not necessarily translated into an increase in visits to offline shopping at malls. In fact, there has been an overall 17% decrease among U.S. consumers shopping at malls and strip malls over the past two and a half years.

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

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