27% US Yet to Begin Holiday Shopping

According to NPR, the past weekend (12/8-9) was the biggest weekend for buying Christmas trees this year, which is a little surprising because that distinction usually goes to the weekend after Thanksgiving. (side note: Christmas Trees are a $3B+ industry – both real and artificial. Wow!)

Wait, Thanksgiving? Oh yes, it’s been so long now that you’ve forgotten we’ve even had Thanksgiving. Well, you’re not alone.

This year’s early Thanksgiving is something of an anomaly. In fact, you have to go back to 2007 in order to find such an early occurrence of Thanksgiving and we won’t have another until 2017. If you dig a little more, you’ll find that consumers were procrastinating back in 2007. So with the Christmas Tree sales coming so late, I was curious to know if there as a general consumer trend to match. To answer the question, I turned to Google Consumer Surveys to gauge the 2012 US consumer’s interest in holiday shopping.


As with past surveys, I used Google’s tool to sample the US Population, pulling out a smaller subset after the initial qualifying question. In this case, the qualifier was Have you started your holiday shopping?. Those answering “No” ended up with a follow-up question to determine when they would actually start. After submitting the survey to Google, the experts there asked that I modify the survey to include “I don’t holiday shop” as a possible answer, and I’m glad they did.

The Results

First, the top-level finding:

The headline number is interesting, but I also think the fact that 14% of the population claims not to holiday shop is also intriguing. Since I don’t have historical data here, I’ll avoid conjecture.

If we look at the insights inferred by the tool, we’ll see that low-income, rural survey takers were more likely to have started their shopping than more affluent, suburban participants. At a higher level, more men than women selected “I don’t holiday shop”.

Looking at those procrastinators, we’ll see that of those who have not started holiday shopping, some 40% don’t plan to begin shopping until next week (week of 12/17/2012). This could spell some good news for brick and mortal retailers going into the weekend of the 22nd.

Complete Survey Results

By request, I’ve gone ahead and made the survey public so that anyone can access the data. Just hop on over to Google Consumer Surveys. Complete Survey Results. If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line at jamiegrove@gmail.com or ping me on LinkedIn.

Disclaimer: All of the comments and insights on this post are my own.