From wish list to cart: Explore the growing trend of early holiday shopping
January 15th, 2024, Bhavika Bansal

From wish list to cart: Explore the growing trend of early holiday shopping

Be it Christmas or Diwali, the New Year or Valentines Day, holidays are not only a time for festive cheer but also a bustling stage for the annual performance of gift-giving. But when do consumers begin their holiday shopping? In this exploration, we seek to decode the patterns and evolving trends that define the early adopters of holiday gift-gathering. From the allure of deals to the strategic planning behind early purchases, a new YouGov survey seeks to understand the heartbeat of those who choose to deck the halls while others are still drafting wishlists. 

According to data from a survey of 17 key international markets, a third of our polled respondents who engage in holiday shopping typically do so 3-to-4 weeks ahead of the holiday being celebrated (33%). While a quarter begin their holiday shopping 1-to-2 weeks in advance (24%), less than a tenth are likely to do so more than 4 months in advance (6%).

A look at the data by market reveals that consumers across European and North American markets are likelier to begin their holiday shopping earlier than their APAC counterparts. 

Twice as many consumers in Hong Kong say they begin their holiday shopping 1-to-2 weeks in advance, compared to the international average (42% vs. 24%). Nearly two-fifths of consumers in Indonesia and India (37% for both) say the same. Australia, on the other hand, stands out among the APAC markets, with consumers more likely to begin their holiday shopping 3-to-4 weeks (33%) or 2-to-3 months (26%) in advance.

Significantly outpacing the international average, holiday shoppers in Denmark and France are the likeliest of all markets to begin their shopping 3-to-4 weeks in advance (45% and 44% respectively).

Interestingly, in contrast to all our polled markets, slightly more than a tenth of consumers in Australia and America indicate a likelihood to begin their holiday shopping more than 4 weeks in advance (11% for both). 

Evidently, there are key differences in how early holiday shoppers venture out to find gifts, decorations and more for the holidays. But what factors influence our respondents’ decisions about when to begin their holiday shopping?

While a majority of our respondents say they are driven by attractive discounts and sales (52%), two out five base their decision on financial planning and budgeting (40%) followed by 36% who do so according to their personal schedule and the availability of free time.

A closer look at six key markets – Great Britain, Denmark, US, Mexico, UAE and India – reveals some interesting nuances. While discounts and sales remain the primary motivating factor behind early holiday shopping in all six markets, the similarities end there. 

Compared to nearly half of Indian and Mexican consumers (47% and 48%), less than a third of Danes (30%) are influenced by budget concerns when deciding when to start their holiday shopping. 

Almost twice as many holiday shoppers in Great Britain (37%) are influenced to begin early in order to spread out holiday expenses compared to those in Mexico, India and the UAE (19% for all). 

Interestingly, a fifth of consumers in India and the UAE (20%) say they begin their holiday shopping early due to pressure from friends and family – almost three times as many consumers in Denmark, Mexico and the US.

Results from the YouGov poll also tell us that only 27% of our internationally polled holiday shoppers are interested in receiving reminders from retailers or shopping apps, encouraging them to begin their holiday shopping early. 

But nearly three out five adults in Europe (59%) and North America (57%) say they are uninterested in receiving such notifications. On the other hand, 62% of respondents in the UAE say they are interested in being reminded to start their holiday shopping in advance. 

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Methodology: YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. The data is based on surveys of adults aged 18+ years in 17 markets with sample sizes varying between 501 and 2004 for each market. All surveys were conducted online in September 2023. Data from each market uses a nationally representative sample apart from Mexico and India, which use urban representative samples, and Indonesia and Hong Kong, which use online representative samples. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced