Last Minute Shoppers & Phone

The 31 days of december are color blocked with six themes: e.g. pretend to work days, actually shop (Dec 24), and after christmas, destroy you body with food and alcohol
Credit: Matt Shirley

Dear Ms. Smartphone: Is it me, or is there a trend to do holiday shopping and prep at the finish line, say the final week before Christmas or Chaunakah? I have barely sent out cards, barely gone to stores, and barely ordered online. But, I have spent a lot of time thinking about the holidays and searching for gift ideas. Regina, Richmond

Dear Regina : When you say that you have spent a lot of time thinking about the holidays and searching, I presume that effort has been online. That would indeed be consistent with two last-minute trends described on ThinkWithGoogle. Before shoppers head to stores, they plan the trips online, search out price, and study the store location and driving directions. These searches are increasingly mobile. (On CyberMonday about 1/3 of the online sales were made on phone.) ThinkWithGoogle says online browsing is inspirational, a source for gift ideas, and that apparently peaks just one week before Christmas.

But, to answer your question of whether we procrastinate more because of phones, there is a case. With next day and two day delivery guarantees, shoppers can hold-off for longer. Some may hope to score a better deal, and for others, it means accumulating more paychecks before buying, keeping all options open, and maybe setting aside time to be home when the packages arrive.

Sometimes, it’s just hard to know the factors: when I grew up my family had a tradition of shopping for new winter coats on Christmas Eve. I don’t think it was about procrastination as much as the fact that coats went on sale then and it was nice to have new ones for the holiday.

In current times, road traffic may have a lot to do with putting off shopping until the last week. It is stressful driving and difficult to find a parking space at the malls. So information gathering is faster, better, and more informed when it takes place online. At the point of purchase, shoppers pick a location that is closest, check the store inventory, and visit when the travel time is best.

The presence of phones really does change our habits and everyday routines, so we should expect that they will change how we think about a holiday and share it. Maybe a future Christmas will put less emphasis on running between stores and accumulating presents and place more weight on taking holiday images, sharing symbols of the season, or just staying home!

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