Another survey confirms shift to online holiday shopping

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Customers plan to make an increasing portion of their holiday purchases online, including Black Friday deals.

Consumers plan to make an average of 67% of holiday purchases online this year, according to the third annual Holiday Gifting Survey from e-commerce platform Tophatter. This is a 20% increase from the average of 56% of holiday purchases respondents reported making online in the 2019 edition of the survey.


More than half (54%) of respondents say they rarely or never attend Black Friday sales in-person, while 22% will attend if there is a discount or item they cannot pass up. Sixteen percent usually attend a Black Friday event in-person, but will skip this year to socially distance. Fewer than one in 10 (8%) respondents said they would never miss attending Black Friday sales in-person.

Somewhat surprisingly, more than four in 10 (44%) respondents said the COVID-19 pandemic will not change their holiday shopping plans much, if at all. Another 30% said they are buying fewer gifts because they have less money or are on a tighter budget this year, while 7% buying more gifts because their loved ones need to be cheered up. Nineteen percent are shopping for the holidays earlier than usual due to the pandemic.

Taking a broader look at holiday shopping windows, the survey found 37% of consumers did not plan to start holiday shopping until November, while 34% of people started in September and October and 11% plan to begin in December. Fourteen percent of respondents holiday shop all year, stockpiling gifts, while 4% do not plan to do any holiday shopping in 2020.

Forty-three percent of respondents are going into holiday shopping with some idea of what they want to buy, but 32% plan to explore stores, apps and websites to discover holiday gifts. Only 16% of shoppers make a detailed list and stick to it.

When asked what’s most important when choosing where to shop this holiday season, overwhelmingly respondents said they select by where free shipping is offered (28%) and where retailers offer bigger discounts than normal (35%). The ability to buy everything online is of primary importance to 19% of respondents. Curbside pickup does not appear to be a primary driving force for holiday shoppers this year, as only 2% of respondents said it is their top priority when choosing a retail destination.

The survey polled 1,081 consumers in the U.S. on their holiday shopping plans for 2020.

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