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The Holiday Season Has Already Started for Nearly Half of Consumers, Thanks to Online Shopping

Retailers still preparing for the holiday season may already be losing out on business, according to new survey results from Affirm. The payments solution surveyed 2,000 Americans about their holiday shopping habits and found that half of respondents have already begun to shop online for their seasonal purchases this year.

The survey also supports recent data that has found that shoppers are increasingly purchasing on non-sale days, with big sale events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday no longer attracting as large a proportion of holiday purchases. Affirm found that seven out of 10 respondents are more likely to buy something on sale now, rather than wait for those discounted days around the Thanksgiving period.

Experts attribute this shift in part to the growing popularity of e-commerce, with shoppers increasingly likely to take advantage of convenience over savings. Additional payment tools like “buy now, pay later” or “pay in installments” can make these purchases more appealing and affordable to consumers, even without the added discounts of major sale days.

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Payment options decrease shoppers’ reliance on major sale days and expands the holiday shopping period – which retailers can take advantage of, if they move quickly. If retailers don’t want to extend their sale period to capture these early shoppers, Affirm recommends utilizing a payment solution to help customers stretch their budget further; 38% said they would still purchase a non-sale item, if they could pay over time.

“As shoppers begin to purchase the things that they want, or need, to make their holiday special, we must arm them with payment solutions that enable them to spend and budget responsibly,” said Silvija Martincevic, chief commercial officer at Affirm. “It is our hope that by offering consumers a more transparent and flexible alternative to credit cards, and honoring our commitment to never charge late or hidden fees, more people will be able to buy gifts for their loved ones this holiday season.”

While consumers are likely to spend less on travel this year, with 41% reporting that they have canceled their holiday travel plans, the change in shopping habits bodes well for consumer goods – and apparel in particular. Of that 41%, three-quarters are planning to put that travel money towards gift purchases instead; 27% of all consumers plan to spend more on apparel and accessories this year, compared to last year.

Despite this optimism, retailers should be prepared for customers to be more savvy about how they spend and therefore take action to preempt cart abandonment. Of those surveyed, 43% reported that hidden fees at checkout were the “biggest blow” to budgets. By being transparent about any additional fees, retailers can help shoppers avoid negative surprises at the point of purchase.

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