Last-minute holiday trends to help you wrap up the season

Kiran Mani / December 2019

Instead of the 32 shopping days we had last year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we’re looking at only 26 days this year. That’s almost a full week less of peak shopping time leading up to Christmas Day. And we’re seeing that U.S. holiday shoppers, on average, still have 53% of their shopping to do in the final weeks leading up to Christmas.1 Retailers can expect brisk holiday shopping right up until Christmas Eve.

To help prepare your retail strategy for the holiday rush, we’re unpacking the latest behavior we see from these last-minute shoppers, from how they’re shopping to what they’re searching for.

Searching shifts from deals to speed

While searches during the Black Friday-Cyber Monday period are dominated by deal seeking — mobile searches for “best deals” have grown by over 90% in the past two years2 — deal hunting is a phenomenon somewhat limited to that weekend. As we move into mid-December, we see that searches increasingly turn to ways to get shopping done quickly. For instance, if last year’s shopping behavior is any indication, we’ll see mobile searches that contain “free shipping” continue to trend for the two weeks following the BFCM window.3

But if shipping is not an option, people double down on how to get what they need nearby. In previous years, mobile searches that contain “store hours” have peaked on Christmas Eve.4

Searches that contain “store hours” peak on Christmas Eve

A line graph with an x-axis shows dates from Oct. 15, 2018 through Jan 21, 2019. The y-axis shows online searches for “store hours”. The graphed line has steady peaks and valleys with a medium spike near Black Friday and huge spike on Dec. 24, 2018.

While online shopping has grown in popularity and convenience year-round, in-store purchases remain a primary driver for sales in December. Why? Because, in addition to convenience and urgency, this year we’re seeing that people want to touch and feel the product they’re looking for (30%) or that they’re not yet sure what they want to buy (23%).5

Searching before arriving — and while — at the store

Before these shoppers head to stores, they plan their trips using search, where they seek help with queries, such as prices (52%) and locations, directions, and nearby stock (42%).

Turning to search for help before heading to stores to buy

Circle icon with a drawing of a map. Accompanying stat reads: 42% of shoppers plan their trips to the store with searches for locations, directions, and nearby stock.

The searching doesn’t end when people arrive at their destination. While in stores, shoppers often continue searching on their mobile devices. But people aren’t just looking for better prices, as retailers might assume. In an analysis we ran in 2017, we saw that in-store shoppers are 4X more likely to search on Google for the retail brand of the store they’re currently in, compared with the next highest competitor.6 Plus, there are 6X more Google searches for the retailer than for “amazon.”7

Last-minute gifts trending on search

And what are these last-minute shoppers searching for? In years past, mobile searches that include “gift idea(s)” accelerated after Black Friday, peaking one week before Christmas. To see what ideas people may have landed on this year, we’re turning to the Google Shopping 100, a list of trending products on Google search.

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