Some Shoppers Actually Like Christmas Creep

Whine and moan all you want, but the Christmas creep isn’t going anywhere. In fact, two separate surveys released indicate that a slew of consumers actually embrace retailers’ ever-earlier holiday push, with many having already started—and in rare cases, already finished—purchasing their holiday gifts.

The first study, conducted by CreditCards.com over Labor Day weekend, found that roughly one in seven, or 32 million Americans, have already begun buying for the holidays. The study also found that 2 percent of all consumers—accounting for about 4.6 million people—have already crossed everything off their list.

The second survey, issued by digital advertising technology firm Rubicon Project, found that an even more robust one-third of shoppers across the U.S., UK and Canada have already kicked off their holiday spending.

“We love to complain about stores putting up holiday displays earlier and earlier each year,” said Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “But the truth is that millions of Americans start holiday shopping long before the first Christmas tree appears in a store.”

Certain consumer groups are more likely to start making holiday purchases before the leaves change. According to CreditCards.com, parents are twice as likely to have started shopping as those without kids. Grandparents are even farther along in their holiday planning, with 7 percent of people ages 65 and older saying they’ve already finished shopping. That compares to 1 percent of people ages 64 or younger.

And the less money a person makes, the more likely he or she is to try and wrap up their shopping early. According to the findings from CreditCards.com, just 19 percent of those who earn at least $75,000 a year expect to finish their holiday shopping before December. By comparison, 30 percent of those making $30,000 a year plan to do so.

“If you’re on a budget, getting an early start on holiday shopping can be a great idea,” Schulz said. “For example, it can make it easier to take advantage of layaway programs.”

Already this summer, Wal-Mart moved its holiday layaway program two weeks earlier, kicking it off in August. Sears-owned Kmart also announced that it will once again offer a layaway service for no money down, adding the ability for shoppers to lease items for no money down.

Although the majority of consumers polled by Rubicon listed cost as a bigger priority than convenience, 78 percent of those surveyed said they plan to spend the same amount or more money than they did last year, with the average U.S. household budgeting $1,050.

Half of those surveyed also indicated that they plan to purchase at least one “big ticket” item this year, placing technology at the top of the list. In the U.S., one-third of shoppers said they will do the majority of their holiday buying online—a trend that no doubt helped Amazon rank as the most popular place from where U.S. consumers plan to purchase gifts. It was followed by Wal-Mart, with Target coming in third.

Rubicon’s study polled 2,009 online consumers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada between Aug. 26 and Aug. 28, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.09 percent for the U.S., and plus or minus 4.37 percent for the U.K. and Canada.

CreditCards.com’s survey was conducted among 1,004 U.S. consumers over the phone, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.