The holiday shopping rush is in mid-swing for nearly 40 percent of Americans who have already embarked on a mission to purchase that something special — months before pumpkins were even carved.
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Nearly 20 percent of shoppers began checking things off their holiday to-do list during or before September while another 20 percent planned to shop during October, according to the survey which takes a variety of economic factors into account to project overall spending.
“Consumers have been starting their shopping earlier for years now, and retailers have responded by offering deals and promotions sooner,” said NRF Senior Director of Industry and Consumer Insights Katherine Cullen. “Our research shows that more than a third of shoppers start by Halloween, so the timeframe of the holiday season keeps expanding.”
Not only are consumers starting early --- they are also spending more.
During this holiday season, consumers plan to spend an average of $1,047.83, which is up four percent from the $1,007.24 they said they would spend last year. Shoppers between the ages of 35 and 44 expect to spend the most at $1,158, according to the findings.
For the two months leading up to the end of the year, holiday retail sales are expected to increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent over 2018 for a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion, the survey indicated.
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay noted that consumers are in “good financial shape” despite recent tariff hikes.
“Consumers are in good financial shape and willing to spend a little more on gifts for the special people in their lives this holiday season,” he said.
This comes amid the United States and China showing no signs of progress toward ending a tariff war that threatens global economic growth.
Under Trump, the United States has slapped tariffs on more than $360 billion worth of Chinese imports and is planning to hit another $160 billion on Dec. 15. That would extend import taxes to virtually everything China ships to the United States. China has hit back by targeting about $120 billion in U.S. goods, focusing on farm products.
The tariffs Trump first imposed on Chinese imports last year largely spared American consumers by focusing on industrial goods. However, the latest rounds are targeting goods that consumers are looking to purchase for holiday gifts such as smartphones and baseballs.
Shay said retailers are expected to import “near-record volumes” of merchandise ahead of the tariffs that are scheduled to take effect in December.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.