General News
Sep 30, 2021

US shoppers get a jump on the holidays, with 40% shopping earlier than last year and 22% already started

New Klarna holiday report also finds that over a third of consumers plan to spend more this year, with Gen Z (57%) and Millennials (53%) leading the way

New York, NY (September 30, 2021) – Forty percent of consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier than they did last year, according to the new 2021 Holidays Unwrapped report from Klarna, the leading global retail bank, payments and shopping service. Based on surveys of more than 24,000 US shoppers and Klarna’s proprietary shopping data from its 20 million consumers nationwide, the report also found that 71% of shoppers plan to begin purchasing holiday gifts before December and 22% have already started. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of shoppers cite a desire to take advantage of holiday sales as the main reason for getting a headstart on their gift purchasing this year. However, amid reports of supply chain issues across the country causing potential headaches for retailers, half of shoppers (50%) are also starting earlier to ensure product availability, while others want to avoid shipping delays (45%) and last-minute stress (39%).

“As a significant percentage of consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping early this year, brands should take note that this group plans to spend 16% more, on average, than those who start shopping later,” said David Sykes, Head of North America, Klarna. “To entice these early birds, retailers should offer some of their best holiday promotions much sooner than usual, while keeping their eyes on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are poised to remain the biggest buying days of the season.”

“Also noteworthy; shoppers with the biggest budgets are twice as likely to seek out flexible payment options, like Klarna’s interest-free Pay in 4 solution. Whether shoppers are purchasing in store or online, 80% are expecting a seamless experience with convenient ways to pay.”

Klarna’s report also found that over one third (34%) of shoppers plan to spend more on gift-giving this year than they did last year, with Gen Zers (57%) and Millennials (53%) more likely than any other age group to expand their budgets this holiday season (Gen Xers: 32%, Baby Boomers: 12%) compared to last year.

ADDITIONAL REPORT HIGHLIGHTS

  • Digital shoppers have bigger budgets. Shoppers who plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping online also have more to dish out this holiday season. Those shopping 'mostly online' plan to spend 9% more, on average, than those who are shopping in-store.
  • Black Friday is on track to overtake Cyber Monday as the biggest online sales day of the year. Nearly half (49%) of shoppers anticipate making the bulk of their purchases on Black Friday this year, compared to 38% who say they’ll spend the most on Cyber Monday. But while Black Friday bargain-hunting traditionally centered around physical retail and those infamous “door-buster” deals, 56% of shoppers say they’ll make the majority of their Black Friday purchases online, compared to 23% who will shop mostly in-store. One in five (20%) plan to buy online and in-store equally. This aligns with Klarna shopping data, which saw online sales volume increase by nearly 3X (+193%) on Black Friday last year compared to the average day in November 2020–surpassing Cyber Monday sales by 26%. 
  • Big-box retailers, department stores and malls are still beloved by shoppers. Big-box retailers (62%) are the most popular place to shop this holiday season, followed by department stores (37%) and malls (34%). Gen Zers (44%) are more likely than all other age groups (Millennials: 38%, Gen Xers: 30%, Baby Boomers: 28%) to hit shopping malls this holiday season.
  • Younger consumers are choosing smarter payment options. Gen Z, Millennial, and Gen Xers are more likely to pay for gifts with debit (59%) over credit (50%), and the majority also are looking for flexible payments (Gen Z: 75%, Millennials: 76%, Gen X: 60%).
  • A great omni-channel experience means high-touch customer service. 80% of shoppers expect a seamless, convenient and connected online and offline shopping experience, and 72% say that helpful customer service and knowledgeable sales associates are critical to ensuring a stand-out shopping experience.
  • Shoppertainment stands out among younger audiences. 71% of Gen Z and 69% of Millennials say that they’re interested in checking out livestream shopping events, compared to 48% of Gen X and 11% of Baby Boomers. 57% of Gen Z and 53% of Millennials are also excited to shop for holiday gifts via T-commerce this holiday season.
  • Social media drives discovery and purchasing decisions. The vast majority of younger shoppers–78% Gen Z and 79% of Millennials–say they have purchased a product after seeing it on social media. The power of these platforms transcends to older audiences as well, with 55% of Gen Xers and 20% of Baby Boomers noting that they’ve been influenced by their feeds.
  • Electronics is the most popular shopping category during holiday sales days. Compared to the average November day, Klarna saw sales of electronics surge by 403% on Black Friday, 232% on Cyber Monday, and 172% during Black Week last year. Further underscoring the universal love of all gadgetry, Klarna Collections data also shows that iPhones, gaming systems, computers, and headphones top wish lists across all demographics this holiday season.

To access the full findings, visit Klarna's 2021 Holidays Unwrapped Report site.

Methodology

The findings in Klarna’s 2021 Holidays Unwrapped report are based on survey results and insights from Klarna’s proprietary shopping data. We analyzed: 

  • The results of a survey of 23,188 US Klarna users ages 18-66+, fielded in August 2021. Definitions of each age group are Gen Z (18-24); Millennials (25-40); Gen X (41-56); Boomers (57-66).
  • The results of a survey of 1,000 US consumers ages 18-66+, fielded August 2021, conducted by the research agency Dynata. Definitions of each age group are Gen Z (18-24); Millennials (25-40); Gen X (41-56); Boomers (57-66).
  • The most-saved items in the Collections feature in the US Klarna app between January-July 2021.
  • Klarna shopping data from online purchases in the US during November and December 2020. Klarna serves more than 10,000 US retailers and 20 million US consumers.