Here come the late holiday shoppers – our survey reveals who they are

December 7, 2023

Heads up, merchants: we hope you have some energy left after that epic Black Friday-Cyber Monday—because you can now reap the benefits of all the procrastinators who’ve left their shopping til the last minute. And there’s a lot of them.

Are you surprised? We were! We’ve reported all season about deals starting sooner and holiday shopping creeping earlier. But even with that being true, nearly half (49%) of holiday shoppers in the U.S. say they still plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping in December.

That’s according to the latest Shopify-Gallup Holiday Shopping Pulse, a series of surveys of U.S. consumers throughout the season.

Of the 1,888 people we surveyed in November, 16% said they wouldn’t even start until December. That figure was nearly twice as high for men (21%) as it was for women (11%).

Younger shoppers are more likely than older shoppers to wait, with 53% of those under age 50 saying they'll do all or most of their shopping in December. That compares to 44% among those 50 and older. The top reason those younger shoppers cite is a practical one: they need enough money to buy gifts.

By contrast, men who wait until December to start their holiday shopping say the main reason (31%) is because they procrastinate (hey, Shopify was built on tight timelines and late nights, so we get it). The second biggest reason (23%) is that they simply prefer to shop in the month when the holidays fall.

One thing all age groups and genders seem to agree on: the appeal of in-person shopping goes up in December. Given a choice, the majority of shoppers surveyed (56%) say they’re more likely to shop in-person at physical retail stores in December than in other months.

That’s one reason why Shopify POS is so important to many of our merchants, such as BR Home, Oak + Fort, and Paige. It gives them the resiliency they need to handle the high transaction volume and heavy foot traffic that December brings.

That's even more true with the launch of POS Terminal, our most robust payment device, and POS Terminal Countertop Kit – a WiFi and ethernet-enabled solution for accepting payments and offering best-in-class checkouts.

What our merchants are seeing

Like a lot of Shopify merchants, Emani Jeter has seen holiday gift sales start earlier and earlier. The founder of Beauty Strike, a beauty line and spa in Brooklyn, N.Y., Emani says that sales of gift certificates and bundles tend to pick up in November and cool off in early December. Then, just when the season is almost over, they pick right back up again.

“The people who are early are super early – they’ve already shopped before Black Friday,” Emani says. “The people who are late are really late, like the week of Christmas. There’s not really an in-between.”

The vast majority of Beauty Strike customers are women, but in the week or so before Christmas, Emani says most of the people buying gifts from her store are men. Many of them call her store asking for advice on what they should buy their partners.

The closer it gets to the holidays, the less time people have to plan and execute the perfect gift—so the easier you can make their choice, the more likely they may be to buy.

Erin Andrews, founder of Indi Chocolate, prepares extra gift sets for Christmas Eve shoppers.

Erin Andrews, founder of Indi Chocolate in Seattle, works every Christmas Eve at her Pike Place Market store. She says there’s typically a surge of customers that day, most of them young or middle-aged men.

“They’re often in town to see family and they realize, ‘Oh my God, I need to get a gift,’” Erin says. “Because they’re in such a rush on the 24th, they want something ready to grab.”

Indi Chocolate prepares by having more gift sets made up and ready to go than on a typical day.

What you can do

Late holiday shoppers are a huge opportunity for retailers. Here are a few ways every merchant can try to capture this late burst of holiday spending:

  • Sell digital gift cards. You can do this through the Shopify app or through a third-party gift card app.
  • Create a gift guide. This can help create a frictionless experience for shoppers who need to grab a gift quickly and don’t have much time to think it over.
  • Offer fast shipping. You can use Shopify Flow to automate workflows that tag orders with the expedited shipping option.
  • Manage your inventory with Shopify. Keep everything in one place, and make sure that the types of items late shoppers are likelier to buy – like a gift bundle – stay in stock far enough into December.

👀 Check out some of our other recent holiday shopping data and insights from our merchants

We’ll be cheering on every business on our platform, from kitchen-table headquarters to global enterprise level, during this final stretch of holiday shopping. You’ve got this! And we’ve got you. 💚


Results for this Shopify-Gallup Holiday Shopper Pulse survey are based on self-administered web surveys conducted Nov. 1-14, 2023, with a random sample of 1,888 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, who indicated they planned to buy holiday gifts this year. All participants are members of Gallup’s probability-based, nationally representative panel. For results based on the sample of holiday shoppers, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

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