Kicking off the holidays
There’s no mistaking this time of year. Temperatures dip, colored lights adorn city streets, warm gloves become ubiquitous, and Americans across the country gear up for mammoth feasts, festive gatherings among friends and family, and plenty of shopping.
As with every year, the lead-up to Thanksgiving is characterized by grocery trips, holiday tunes, neighborhood cheer and retail bonanzas. But when actually does the holiday season start? Not surprisingly, it seems like a little bit earlier with each passing year.
This year, 25% of Americans were so eager to get into the spirit that they started their holiday shopping back in September. And by the second week of November, 11% of Americans said they had completed more than 75% of their shopping. At that same point, however, almost one-quarter said they were less than 25% done with their shopping.
The other trend that’s gaining traction in the shopping realm is consumers’ use of digital channels. As of Nov. 11, 2016, a Nielsen survey conducted by the Harris Poll found that 58% of Americans had purchased holiday gifts online, compared wtih 40% who made a purchase at a big-box retail store.
Getting into the spirit
It’s not just retailers helping Americans into the holiday spirit earlier. Books, radio and television play a big part as well, with both providing myriad content options to choose from, often before the season’s Halloween candy is even gone.
While some TV networks dabble with offering “all-holiday” programming in primetime, going all in for the holidays is much more common on the radio. In 2015, more than 170 stations made the switch to the all-holiday format. This year, more than 20 stations had made the switch as of Nov. 14, and a station in Cincinnati was first to make the change on Nov. 1.
Tasting is Believing
While it’s fun to get in the spirit with festive tunes and spoil each other with treats and indulgences, let’s not forget about one of the main things that bring us together during the season: holiday eating. When it comes to the holidays in the U.S., consumers go to town on seasonal foods. In looking at spending last year, Americans spent more than $473 million on whole turkeys between Oct. 1, 2015, and Jan. 2, 2016. They also spent an additional $88.6 million on turkey breasts. But despite Americans’ penchant for turkey and all the trimmings, our meal appetites are dwarfed by our love of a good beer or fine wine. In fact, Americans spent more than $9.7 billion on beer and another $4.8 billion on wine over the holidays last year.