Pre-Holiday 2023 Shopping Trends and Insights

Now that we've entered the 2023 holiday shopping season we are exploring key trends and insights into pre-holiday shopping trends. Despite economic changes, holiday spending remains strong, with an increasing trend towards early shopping.

Pre-Holiday Shopping Trends 2023 Hero

Holiday 2023 planning is in full swing, shoppers are setting their budgets and expectations and retailers are preparing for the Q4 boom. Despite inflation and other macroeconomic factors, our survey results prove that holiday spending and shopping will continue to maintain their steady uptick and prove critical for business results.

To capture the attention of buyers of all ages and income levels, consider adding an affiliate marketing strategy to your existing marketing mix, or use that extra budget to test out new affiliate partners and strategies. By partnering with a vertical-focused content site or luxury publisher partner, brands can ensure they grab consumer attention, whenever and wherever they are shopping online.

The holiday spirit is arriving early

Holiday shopping is starting earlier and earlier each year, with shoppers starting their holiday spending as early as September. Of the shoppers we surveyed, 45% said they typically start their holiday shopping in November. Another 26% start shopping in October and only 10% in September, which is an early shift from reports in 2022. This gives advertisers an opportunity to make the most of all shopping peaks, targeting different audiences at different times.

When people say they start their holiday shopping chart

Women are responsible for most of the early shopping activity, with 20% starting before the end of September compared to only 14% of men. Most men tend to start their shopping later in the season, with 50% starting in November and 12% waiting until December. We recommend working with your top publishers directly to create a strategy that is uniquely built for your affiliate marketing program goals and coincides with optimal promotions for your brand.

As marketers reach out to those early shoppers, they should take the time to tailor their messages accordingly, as it could pay off with strong sales.

The most popular shopping day of the year

Most popular shopping days in 2022 chartFor several years, Black Friday has always been the highest-grossing day of Cyber Week sales in the Rakuten Advertising US network, so we asked shoppers specifically about which shopping days during and after Cyber Week they feel they are getting the best deal.

Most shoppers (59%) felt that Black Friday still has the best deals of Cyber Week, followed by Cyber Monday with a strong 15%, and then Thanksgiving Day at 7%. To achieve success this holiday season, be sure to make your highest and most sought-after deals the focus during Cyber Week with a smaller percentage off coupon or discount being offered before and after the big spend week.

Budgeting for the 2023 holiday season

Planned holiday spending budget chart

Budgeting in 2023 has been tricky as consumers continue to deal with inflation and other economic factors. Despite this, our survey showed that people are still planning to spend, with a budget of $500-$1000 being the most popular range that consumers are willing to shell out.

Age plays a factor in budget choices, as over 50% of shoppers below the age of 25 and over the age of 65 plan to spend below $500 on holiday shopping.

How is inflation changing consumers’ shopping plans?

Inflation is causing many shoppers to change how they plan to spend their holiday budget. We found that women are more likely to lower their budgets and/or decrease the number of items they plan to buy during holiday shopping, as opposed to 9% of male shoppers. To really grab the attention of your desired customer, be sure you’re targeting the best audience on with your publishers that your eye-catching deals and promotions stay front and center.

Despite the shift to decrease budgets for some, 34% of respondents said they have made no changes to their budget or the number of items they expect to buy, indicating that they most likely have not set a budget. Once they get to the bulk of their holiday shopping in November, the pressure of inflation will become a factor. Mitigating this pressure will be the key to success in the 2023 holiday shopping season.

Paying for holiday purchases - chart

Paying for holiday purchases

The holidays are undoubtedly the most expensive time of year for the majority of consumers, between gifts, traveling home, and an uptick in social events, people are looking for the best ways to finance the holiday season. The affiliate channel can be an excellent resource for customers looking to score coupons or discounts. Promoting a wallet-friendly deal on a popular cashback or coupon site can be the determining factor for a customer to choose you over the competition.

76% of shoppers report traditional bank credit cards will be used this year while shopping. Gift cards are one of the topmost purchased holiday items and are often used to pay for holiday purchases.

  • Newer forms of payment are getting traction during the holiday season with 24% using digital wallets and 16% saying they will be using Buy Now Pay Later options.
  • Less than 10% of shoppers will be using cryptocurrency this year.
  • Gift cards are a top gift during the holiday season, and many people turn around and use those gift cards and store credits to purchase more gifts.

Paying for holiday purchases chart

As we gear up for the 2023 holiday season, it’s clear that holiday shopping will continue to be a crucial driver of business success despite economic challenges. To outperform your goals this holiday season, prioritize an affiliate marketing strategy to help grab customers’ attention from the point of inspiration to purchase.

In August 2023, Rakuten Advertising surveyed 15,000 US consumers about their holiday shopping plans and expectations. Respondents aged 18-70 were equally split between men and women with incomes over $25k a year.

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