NEW YORK (MainStreet) — The holiday season is upon us, and this year shoppers will spend an estimated $804.27 on gifts and celebrations, according to the National Retail Federation.
Shoppers will be active in-store and online, with more shoppers than ever in history — 44% — opting to do the majority of their shopping via the Internet. No matter when or where consumers shop, however, they're all looking for good deals. The good news is, they're out there.
Here's a look at when to find the best bargains during the 2014 holiday season:
Shopping before Thanksgiving
Early-bird shoppers have already been hitting bricks-and-mortar and online stores hard this year, according to the National Retail Federation. Approximately 40% of consumers began their holiday shopping before Halloween, and a further 40% planned to start in November. The majority of shoppers — 51% — said they shop early to avoid crowds, while another 44% said the deals and promotions found early in the season are "too good to pass up."
"The joke is that Christmas starts right after Halloween, but this year we saw people shopping in early October — well before Halloween," says David Beazley, CEO of Strongbark, an online social shopping site.
Retailers are happy to take your money any time of year, so sales have been starting earlier in the season for several years. The bargains are so good right now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday may actually see a slight downturn.
"Both of the shopping holidays are going to be diluted this year because of the deals going on right now," Beazley says. "Many people who waited until the last minute to do their shopping last year either found that their packages didn't make it to the door in time or what they wanted was sold out. They're not going to make that mistake again."