late holiday shoppers

How to Attract Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

When did you start your holiday shopping? If you’re like many U.S. consumers, that answer may be “tomorrow!” 

According to the Q4 2020 Consumer Trends Report (CTR), 17% of U.S. consumers said they’d start their holiday shopping in December. These late holiday shoppers are ordering gifts and other holiday goods down to the wire, having passed up major sales events like Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday

It’s not too late for ecommerce sellers to convert last-minute holiday shoppers. Here’s how to do it — based on where December consumers will shop, how much they plan to spend, and who made their gift lists. 


Late holiday shoppers will choose Amazon

Will December holiday shoppers risk delayed shipping on last-minute online purchases, or will they pop into brick-and-mortar stores to snap up holiday items before closing time? The answer: it depends. 

But there is some great news for ecommerce entrepreneurs: three out of these consumers’ top five retail outlets during the pandemic are online, and late shoppers prefer Amazon overall (63%). 

However, exactly where consumers will shop for holiday goods in December will come down to product category.

Top retail outlets for December shoppers in Q3: 

Value Percent
Amazon 63%
Walmart (in store) 51% 26%
Target (in store) 26%  18%
Home Depot (in store) 15%  12%
Lowe’s (in store) 12%
Sam’s Club (in store) 12%
Costco (in store) 9%

When making purchases in their top holiday categories (gifts and holiday food and beverages), they’re likely to split their shopping between online retailers and physical stores. 

Where will late holiday shoppers buy gifts?

  • 45% in-store
  • 28% on Amazon 
  • 20% from other online retailers
  • 6% won’t purchase

Where will late holiday shoppers buy holiday food and beverages?

  • 65% in-store 
  • 12% on Amazon
  • 7% from other online retailers
  • 16% won’t purchase

Here’s something to keep in mind: 16% of late holiday shoppers will buy gifts based on ideas they get from social media. So don’t assume that these consumers will rush to buy the first item they see in a store or on a website; they’re still putting thought into their purchases, and it’s up to sellers to ensure shoppers will discover their products off of Amazon, too. 

Seller Strategy: market non-food gifts, on and off Amazon

Late holiday shoppers prefer Amazon to other retailers in general (both online and brick-and-mortar), but prefer to shop for groceries in-store. Your best bet for converting late shoppers is with gift items, not food or beverages. 

Late shoppers are nearly as likely as other groups to consider buying gifts they see on social media. If you haven’t tried to market your Amazon products on Facebook, start now. Our guide shows you how to direct Facebook traffic to a landing page, then onto your Amazon listing for better conversions. Or you can integrate your Shopify orders with FBA for the quick and convenient delivery customers love.


Late holiday shoppers will spend less money

Perhaps due to COVID-19 and economic strain, late shoppers are buckling down on spending this year more so than other groups. Compared to consumers who began their holiday shopping on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, Prime Day (October 13th and 14th this year), or earlier, late holiday shoppers will spend less money on holiday shopping overall. They are willing to spend less on a single gift, and are also less likely to increase their year-over-year holiday spending in 2020. 

How will late holiday shoppers spend this year versus in 2019? 

  • 47% will spend the same amount as last year
  • 32% will spend less than last year
  • 13% will spend more than last year

By comparison, 39% of early shoppers and 20% of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers plan to spend more this year than last. 

How much will late holiday shoppers spend in 2020? 

  • 25% will cap their total spending at $100 
  • 25% will spend no more than $250 
  • 52% will spend a maximum of $50 on a single gift
  • 6% are willing to pay full-price for luxury items as gifts

On the whole, they’ll spend less than all other groups of shoppers. And while late shoppers are no more likely to search for deals on gifts (34% of all consumers will bargain-hunt this year), they are far less willing to fork over big bucks for luxury gifts. 

Price wins over fast shipping for late holiday shoppers, which may seem contradictory. Despite risking post-holiday delivery for gifts ordered on short notice, December shoppers are less likely than other groups to say they’re willing to spend more for a product for faster shipping. 

Seller Strategy: Lower your prices for now

At this point in the year, you should brace yourself for fewer sales of your higher-ticket listings. Remember, faster shipping is unlikely to incentivize these price-conscious shoppers to spend more on a product. So consider lowering your prices to get rid of as much stock as you can before the new year. 

Now is a great time to market your lower-priced items aggressively, as late shoppers are less willing to spend than earlier groups. It may help you to increase your budget or bids on pay-per-click (PPC) ads in the final stretch of the year. 


Late shoppers will buy fewer holiday products 

Late holiday shoppers will spend in fewer holiday categories than other groups, though most will purchase gifts and holiday food and beverages.

Which items do December shoppers plan to buy for the 2020 holiday season?

In-store On Amazon Online – other Don’t plan to buy 
Gifts 45% 28% 20% 6%
Holiday home decor (indoor/outdoor) 33% 16% 6% 46%
Gift wrapping supplies 46% 18% 6% 30%
Holiday food/beverages 65% 12% 7% 16%
Entertainment/party supplies 35% 13% 6% 45%
Holiday apparel 33% 12% 7% 48%

While the overwhelming majority will purchase holiday food and beverages, nearly half will forego holiday home decor, holiday apparel, and party supplies. Just under a third will not buy gift wrapping supplies this year. 

One in five late holiday shoppers will purchase essential items—groceries, cleaning products, and over the counter medications—as gifts this year. 

Seller Strategy: pare down marketing for less popular categories, and make sure you’re Prime-eligible 

Late shoppers are less interested in many of the holiday product categories that were popular with earlier shoppers. Among these are holiday home decor, holiday apparel, and party supplies. Knowing that they may see fewer sales of these items, sellers can adjust their PPC spend accordingly. 

The holidays are an important time to have Prime eligibility, whether it’s through FBA or through Seller-Fulfilled Prime. At this stage, it’s probably too late to send inventory to FBA—it may not even arrive at the warehouse before Christmas. Furthermore, sellers have experienced reduced FBA inventory limits this year due to COVID-19. 

So if you have stock of a popular item, but it’s not yet in an FBA warehouse, list it through Fulfillment By Merchant (FBM) with free shipping to take advantage of last minute shoppers. Buyers will purchase from a non-Prime FBM listing if there is no other option,  or if an FBA offer is priced too high

That goes for essential items, too. Make sure you’re still well-stocked with Prime-eligible grocery, cleaning, or over-the-counter medicine products, as these items will still be popular in December. 

A bright spot: late shoppers are less brand-loyal than those who started their shopping early (46% vs 62%), which benefits smaller brands. As an ecommerce seller, this is your time to shine! 


Late holiday shoppers will keep their gift lists short

In general, December shoppers will buy gifts for fewer people (and pets) than earlier groups. When buying gifts for loved ones, these consumers will stick to close family and friends. 

Who made last-minute holiday shoppers’ gift lists? 

Value Percent
My child/children 47%
Partner/spouse 42%
My parents 37%
My siblings 30%
Friends 24%
Extended family 17%
Myself 16%
My pets 14%
My grandparents 9%
My in-laws 8%
Neighbors 5%
Coworkers 4%
Essential workers 2%

As will all other consumers, late holiday shoppers are most likely to purchase gifts for their children, followed by their partner or spouse, parents, siblings, and friends. 

Seller Strategy: list baby and children’s items 

Toys & Games is among the most lucrative Amazon categories this time of year, and other gifts for children and infants will be popular throughout the holiday season as well. If you’re approved to list toys, make sure you’re well-stocked. If you’re not, try listing baby items or children’s clothing—and be sure to get approved to sell toys next year.  

Don’t hesitate to try out retail or online arbitrage as a way to sell more during the holidays. You can get a big boost from selling popular seasonal items and those hard-to-get popular gifts parents are scouring shelves to find.  


Scoop up late holiday sales

There’s still time for ecommerce sellers to tweak their strategies and boost their end-of-year revenue with sales to late holiday shoppers. Keep in mind that any sale this late in the game is a victory—do what you can, and come better prepared to smash your holiday sales records next year. 

What’s your best tip for ending the year strong? Let us know in the comments!



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *