Summertime Christmas shopping uncommon, despite early sales

Fewer than 15 percent started shopping in July

Summer is almost over, have you put a dent in your Christmas shopping list yet? If not, don’t worry because you’re hardly alone.

A recent survey by RetailMeNot.com found fewer than 15 percent of shoppers had already started shopping for the holidays. “I don’t think it’s that common,” said Trae Bodge, senior lifestyle editor for RetailMeNot, the largest digital offers destination in the United States.

Bodge’s research found 11 percent of respondents had started shopping in June and 14 percent in July this year. She said it’s becoming trendy for retailers to tailor sales for early-bird holiday shoppers.

So-called Spring/Summer Black Friday sales were organized by major peddlers this year. The Home Depot and Bon-Ton Stores offered major discounts in April, according to Bodge. Sears held a similar sale in May, while Target, Best Buy and Belk tantalized holiday shoppers in July.

Fiscal reports indicate the success of these mid-year blowouts is mixed.

On Aug. 19, The Home Depot announced second quarter earnings were up 5.7 percent from 2013, while Bon-Ton reported net losses of $36.2 million for their second quarter ending Aug. 2.

“We now have the battle between back-to-school shopping and holiday excitement,” Bodge said, comparing summer holiday shopping to back-to-school sales beginning as early as June. “It’s interesting that stores are doing that,” she said. Bodge cited the reason being retailers are anxious about meeting their yearly expectations early so the pressure is lessened in December.

As retail companies try to get their piece of the holiday pie earlier than ever, Bodge said shoppers seem to stick to their budgets no matter what month they begin hitting the stores, according to RetailMeNot’s research.

Traditionally, September and October are when Christmas shopping begins in earnest, according to Bodge.

She said if you’re looking for new holiday decorations, now is an optimal time to look for deals. “You will find very deep discounting right now on things like holiday decor,” Bodge said. She said many stores will have some decorative items in stock even if you can’t find them on their shelves.

“Wal-Mart had huge clearances on some Christmas items,” she said, also suggesting Amazon and Target as destinations for holiday decor in the summertime.

Follow this writer on Twitter @MrClintDavis.

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