Days before Thanksgiving, Online Shopping is in Full Swing

11/19/2012 10:45:00 AM

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While retailers might still be carting out decorations and Black Friday deals have yet to hit shelves, the holiday shopping season is already in full swing. Searches for “holiday gift” on Google have already spiked 156% since the first of November, and searches for “Black Friday” are up 546%.

In the days leading up to the biggest shopping event of the year, we took a look at early trends in holiday shopping using Google Consumer Surveys and found that it’s shaping up to be the first Nonline holiday season. People are shopping earlier and shopping smarter, both online and in stores. Case in point, while 80% of shoppers plan to research their purchases online, 69% of apparel shoppers still plan to make their purchases in a store while 36% plan to purchase online.

Shopping earlier, shopping smarter
Although we’re only halfway into November, many consumers have already purchased their holiday gifts - 14% of people who plan to shop for toys have already made purchases, 11% for apparel shoppers, and 6% for electronics shoppers. Most plan on completing their shopping primarily in December, but Thanksgiving weekend shopping remains strong. We found that 28% of people who plan to shop for electronics plan to make their purchases primarily during Thanksgiving weekend, 18% for toy shoppers, and 17% for apparel shoppers.

In addition to shopping earlier, people are using smartphones to be smarter about the purchases they make. We found that 80% of shoppers use their smartphone or tablet to shop before buying online or in a store. If you’re a retailer, most people that walk through your doors will already have an idea of what they’re looking for in mind.

Smart marketers are helping customers pre-shop items online before getting to the store. Macy’s is using search ads to drive people to their Black Friday sale preview whether they’re on a laptop or mobile device. Holiday card searches jump after Thanksgiving, and new ad formats are allowing Storkie Express to raise awareness of their Hidden Dimension app, a new tool that animates their paper holiday cards. Running the mobile app extension on search ads has boosted downloads for their app across screens.

Discounts and free shipping seal the deal
Consumers still see shipping costs as a barrier, and for some it can be a deal breaker. If the a site doesn’t offer free shipping:
  • 48% will look for it on another site with free shipping
  • 32% will visit a nearby store to buy the product
  • 20% will still purchase the item from the site
Most shoppers felt that they are seeing the same amount of holiday discounts and coupons as they did last year (70%). However 22% of shoppers feel that they’re seeing fewer deals for holiday sales and promotions - which opens the opportunity for retailers to reach consumers with special offers as they’re actively hunting for deals this week. This is particularly impactful for toy retailers, as 40% of shoppers always compare prices on toys before making a decision.

Shoppers go online to beat crowds
As more people cross-shop online and in stores this season, many view online shopping as an easier way to shop. Consumers described holiday shopping online as easy, great, and convenient, while they described holiday shopping in stores as crazy, hectic, stressful, and exciting.

However, having an easy-to-use mobile website is essential to keeping shoppers on your site. More than 46% feel frustrated when mobile sites are hard to navigate. And as we’ve seen from past research, mobile shoppers will quickly move on to another site if they didn’t find what they were looking for right away.

You can find these stats and more by viewing the full report on Google Consumer Surveys. Find more of our holiday shopping research here.

Posted by Jon Sadow, on behalf of the Google Consumer Surveys team


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