Six weeks ahead of the traditional holiday shopping season, retailers already kicked off and extended their promotions and sales to capture early-bird shoppers. Some retailers started the shopping holiday season with promotions beginning on October 1, and aligned to retailer deal days. Early-bird shopping has become the leading trend, with almost half (46%) of consumers starting their holiday shopping before November last year, up from 39% in 2019.

In an NRF survey, 39% of shoppers said they plan to start shopping earlier than they typically do this holiday season in an effort to spread their shopping budget to cover the costs of the holiday season. Walmart, Target, Best Buy, and Kohl’s hosted companion sales deal days to go head-to-head with Amazon’s Prime Days this October, and an estimated 148.83 million consumers participated in the deal days period, up 7.5% compared to 2022. The top categories for deal-saving were technology, fitness, home appliances, and pets, as consumers comparison-shopped well before holiday spending.

According to Adobe, online sales are expected to grow 5% to $222 billion this holiday season, with discounts of up to 35% off the expected list price, depending on the category. Toys and Electronics will see the highest discounts at 35% and 30%, respectively. Sporting Goods and Furniture are expected to experience the most significant jump in promotional activity from last year, up 14% and 11%, respectively. In addition to credit card spending, more consumers choose Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) shopping offerings. Adobe surveyed one in five consumers who plan to use BNPL to purchase gifts, and total spending on these transactions is expected to grow 17% to reach $17 billion this holiday season. Year-to-date BNPL spending was up 15% to $47 billion.

Looking at the critical Cyber week period—Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday—Adobe predicts $37.2 billion in online spending, up 5.4% from last year and representing 16.8% of the holiday season. Cyber Monday is anticipated to reach $12 billion in sales, followed by Black Friday at $9.6 billion and Thanksgiving at $5.6 billion.

Overall, we are forecasting that holiday spend will grow by 3.1% this year. Early signs in the holiday shopping season indicate a willingness among consumers to spend, often resorting to credit for their purchases as a more cautious consumer mindset continues to set in. Effective merchandising, omnichannel offerings, and discounts will drive foot traffic. Following the trend of back-to-school shopping, online sales are expected to grow significantly. Retailers are maintaining control over inventory levels and improving supply chains to bolster margins, a strategy that will be crucial during the holiday season when consumers seek bargains.