By Lenore Fedow
The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to total between $727.9 and $730.7 billion.
Washington—More than half of consumers have already started their holiday shopping, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

The survey found 56 percent of consumers had begun shopping by the first week of November. The result was similar to the past few years, but up from the 48 percent recorded a decade ago.

Consumers, on average, have completed 24 percent of their shopping, the highest level recorded in the survey’s history and up substantially from 16 percent in 2009.

Four percent of consumers have completely finished checking items off their holiday shopping lists, while 18 percent said they would wait until December to start buying gifts.

Shoppers said they would get a head start as a way to dodge crowds, avoid waiting until the last minute, and spread out their spending.

The results are a telltale sign that the holiday season is spreading out beyond the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, NRF CEO Matthey Shay said in a press release.

“Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there’s billions of dollars in shopping still to come. But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that.”

Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy at NRF, said some retailers responded this year by rolling out holiday deals before Halloween.

The NRF expects holiday retail sales to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent year-over-year, with sales totaling as much as $730.7 billion.

The NRF defines the holiday season as Nov. 1 to Dec. 31.

There are 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, six fewer days than last year and the shortest number possible.

The NRF surveyed 7,917 adult consumers Oct. 31 through Nov. 6.

Market research company NPD recently published a pre-holiday-season survey as well, breaking down holiday shoppers by generation.

Gen X and baby boomers are expected to spend the most on holiday shopping, according to NPD’s 2019 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey.

Gen Z and millennial shoppers, meanwhile, are the most likely groups to begin shopping on Black Friday.

NPD Group said knowing how the generations differ can be critical for marketers.

“No consumer can be left behind in today’s increasingly competitive retail environment where shoppers demand a more personalized approach than ever before,” Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry advisor, said in a press release.

Black Friday deals are expected to draw in Gen Z shoppers, with 18 to 22 year olds, the older segment of the group, planning to spend the least of all generations, although one-third will spend more than last year.

The generation is less likely than millennials and Gen X to shop online, but are expected to buy clothing, accessories, and electronics.

Millennials are “all about the deals, dollars, and technology this holiday,” according to the survey, with 20 percent expected to start shopping on Black Friday, second only to Gen Z shoppers.

The generation is expected to spend less than Gen X and Boomers, but one-third will spend more than last year.

The majority of Millennials will shop online, with 46 percent buying electronics and 19 percent shopping at dollar stores.

Gen X shoppers were described as “the big holiday spenders,” and are expected to spend more than all the other generations.

More than half of the segment will shop at mass merchants while 77 percent will shop at online-only retailers.

Gen Xers are most likely to buy clothing and accessories (68 percent) and entertainment items (44 percent).

Boomers are expected to get a head start on holiday shopping with 57 percent expected to begin before Thanksgiving, a greater percentage than any other generation.

The generation will spend the second highest amount after Gen X, though overall spending is in-line with last year.

It is the most likely generation to shop at department stores (24 percent) and national chains (27 percent) and most likely to buy liquor or wine as holiday gifts (26 percent).

Silent Generation shoppers (born 1925-1945) will be important at stores and at the last minute, as per the study.

It is the most likely generation to start shopping late, with four out of 10 shoppers planning to do so, and only half will shop online.

The generation will spend about the same as millennials and about as much as they did last year.

The NPD sent its survey to its online consumer panel in September to create a representative U.S. sample and presented the results of 3,485 completed surveys in the report.

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