Home Blog 2018 Consumers with a Lot of Christmas Shopping Left to Do Had Better Get Started
Dec 18, 2018

The Pressure is Building

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Christmas has its way of creeping up on many of us, myself included.  Every year around this time, I go through a mad rush when it suddenly dawns on me that Christmas is just days away …  six days/144 hours to be exact.  That’s all the time I have to get through my to-do list before everyone arrives at home to celebrate the biggest family gathering of the year.  The pressure is on, but I can take it.

I had it easy in the last few years, going over to mum or the in-laws for the annual Christmas gathering. Then, I only had to think about Christmas gifts, not the slew of activities that came with being the host.  A long list of presents to find (usually in the range of 25 gifts) was daunting but manageable after two or three weekends of shopping. I usually began in mid-November with the occasional online shopping around Black Friday; and I was ‘all done’ around 10 days before Christmas without fail, with the last shopping days being used to tie up loose ends.  But this year, it is our turn to host! We have invited both families to our house – that’s 15 people to feed and house over the course of several days. The pressure is building; I still have presents to buy! I’m not in a good shape.  Six days to go and I’m scrambling to buy a new refrigerator, desperately trying to find a new double-bed and a sofa bed for home delivery.  I have ordered the Christmas Eve seafood platter, sourced the venison but haven’t found the ham or the champagne. And toys for the kids? Argh! I am still missing a present for my 15-year-old son, one for the 9-year old nephew, an amazing gift for the godson who already has everything and, of course, the family fun game we will all be playing on Christmas day.

And I am not alone.  Every year, NPD reports that Christmas is happening later and later (even though it’s always on December 25). This year, Christmas day falls on a Tuesday. It also fell on a Tuesday in 2012, when sales in all major countries were sluggish until the last three weeks of the year; and by three weeks, I really mean two full weeks, including a Sunday and a Monday (proof that much of the consumer purchasing is done at the last minute).  In NPD’s 2017 Christmas Wishlist study, we found that 38 percent of French shoppers started their Christmas shopping in early December, and 22 percent at the end of December. And more than half of all French shoppers finished their shopping in late December, with a quarter of them saying they finished shopping later in 2017 than they did in 2016. The results were similar in all countries. So, no, I am not alone.  I do wonder – and am a bit envious of – the 21 percent of people who start shopping in October (because I don’t know any). The interesting thing about the early shoppers is that they tend to spend more as they shop for a longer period of time.

In any case, I cannot wait to read the results of the 2018 Christmas Wishlist study, which we will be fielding straight after Christmas in all major European countries. The results will be available in early February.  I wonder if ‘lateness’ will have become stronger again, and how the industry will react and adapt to this. I also look forward to analyzing the spend on categories outside of toys and the impact this had on toys sales. 

Well, enough wondering; I’d better go back to my to-do list. Merry Christmas to you all. See you next year!

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