While it may seem like it is months away, for many shoppers the holiday season is practically upon them, and they are already planning their shopping excursions. A new study from G/O Digital Marketing Solutions found that almost a quarter of all holiday shoppers start thinking about the holiday shopping season in October, and more than 4 in 10 begin gathering goods in November.

In addition, the survey learned that more than two-thirds of consumers go directly to the major search engines to collect information about their purchases prior to starting their shopping trips, and more than 90 percent are looking for discounts, special pricing, or deals before they head to a store.

The study, “Holiday Purchasing Habits: A Digital Advantage for Local Businesses,” analyzed responses from more than 1,000 participants and uncovered some interesting, and helpful, information. Among the findings of particular interest to small businesses:

  • 83 percent of consumers are likely to visit local businesses who have sent them a holiday-themed email;
  • 82 percent said they will use their mobile devices to obtain store information while out holiday shopping;
  • Over 60 percent said they conduct business within ten miles of their residence;
  • 59 percent said they have a preference for stores offering the best promotions and discounts;
  • 55 percent indicated they pay attention to shopping holidays and deals that are offered (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, etc.);
  • 55 percent are most influenced by local businesses offering discounts at least 15 percent;
  • 55 percent expect to receive emails and social ads with holiday themes by November;
  • More than half said the holiday emails catch their attention and they enjoy reading them; and
  • About thirty percent said they made a purchase because of a Facebook ad.

The report offered that given the strong emphasis consumers place on online research before and during their shopping, local businesses that tap into this digital zeitgeist are well-positioned to structure effective marketing campaigns that will allow them to successfully compete against big box retailers during the holiday shopping season.


eMarketer. “Search Engines Top Stop for Holiday Shopping Research,” September 14, 2014

G/O Digital. “Holiday Purchasing Habits: A Digital Advantage for Local Businesses,” September, 2015.