Have you started saving for your Christmas gifts yet?
Sorry procrastinators, but saving for holiday shopping six months — or even a year — in advance is not as farfetched as it sounds to most people, at least according to a Swagbucks survey of more than 26,000 of its users that found that more than one-third of respondents (34 percent) have already started saving for the holiday shopping season.
Swagbucks is an online rewards program that awards users with gift cards and cash for taking surveys — like the one we’re talking about now — and watching videos online.
Fifteen percent of those surveyed said they began saving for the holiday shopping season all the way back in January, 18 percent said they began saving in June and another 21 percent said they planned to begin their holiday saving in the fall (19 percent said they don’t plan on saving at all for the holiday).
“The holidays may be six months away, but savvy shoppers are already preparing,” said Sarah Aibel, vice president of marketing at Swagbucks. “In fact, many of our members already have a savings plan that includes cash-back shopping apps and sites to help them compare prices and make their money go farther.”
Although the average Swagbucks user is probably slightly more savings-conscious than most, their data can be useful for helping brands and retailers figure out their consumers’ habits when it comes time for holiday shopping.
“Our users are savers,” Aibel said of Swagbucks, which claims 19 million active members and to have paid out almost $140 million in gift cards since its founding in 2008. “Our users come to our site because they want to earn a little bit extra to help them supplement their budget.”
Of those who took the survey, 73 percent said they planned to spend about the same amount in holiday shopping this year as they spent last year.
Forty percent of those surveyed said they planned to put themselves on a “strict budget” this holiday shopping season, with 24 percent planning to use cash-back sites as a way to supplement their shopping. Twenty percent said they planned to use more coupons, and 10 percent planned to open a savings account exclusively dedicated to holiday spending.
When it came to budgets for the holiday season, 33 percent said they would restrict their spending to between $250 and $500, 26 percent said they planned to spend between $500 and $1,000 and 20 percent said they would keep it between $100 and $250.
Presents, by far, came out at the top of the list of items that people were saving for, with parents topping the list of those responders were saving up to buy presents for at 66 percent. Significant others came in at 60 percent and children at 55 percent.
But it’s not just holiday presents that people are beginning to save up for, apparently, as many of their savings lists also include savings for holiday travel, decorations and parties, food and a holiday-themed wardrobe (these are the people who probably always wear those ugly Christmas sweaters or ties).
Of those people, 46 percent said they were also budgeting additional money for food, 26 percent said they were saving up for decorations and 26 percent were putting their money away for holiday travel.
According to a survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), holiday sales increased by 3 percent to $626.1 billion in 2015, with online and non-store holiday sales growing by 9 percent to $105 billion.
But despite all this saving and planning, many holiday shoppers still put most of their Christmas shopping off to the last minute. A 2015 survey by the NRF found that only 53.5 percent of consumers had completed their holiday shopping by Dec. 15, with 90 percent reporting that they still had gifts, food, decorations and other holiday-related items to buy.
Either way, as the holidays approach, retailers should expect consumers to become increasingly savings-conscious, to further tighten their belts and to pinch their pennies before the deluge of the holiday shopping season officially gears up with Black Friday.