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Shoppers Plan to Buy for Themselves This Holiday Season

Shoppers Plan to Buy for Themselves This Holiday Season

Story Highlights

  • 64% plan to buy something for themselves or their household
  • More holiday shoppers plan to shop on Cyber Monday than Black Friday
  • Product/Brand experience, word-of-mouth key to holiday purchase decisions

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Nearly two-thirds of probable Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers (64%) are likely to buy items for themselves or their household on those special sale days, and more than a third (34%) say they will probably stock up on regular household items to use in the coming year. Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain key shopping days for holiday gifts, with 86% planning to use the occasions to buy gifts for those on their list. About three in 10 holiday shoppers (29%) will look to take advantage of deals happening over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend to buy a big-ticket item (defined as costing $500 or more) that they were putting off, waiting to get the best deal.


These results are from the latest Shopify-Gallup Holiday Shopper Pulse, conducted Oct. 4-16 by web using the Gallup Panel. The nationally representative survey of 1,771 U.S. adults, aged 18 and older, who plan to purchase holiday gifts this year included a subsample of 1,172 shoppers who indicate they are likely to shop on Black Friday, Cyber Monday or both days. 

Younger adults shopping over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend are more inclined than older shoppers to buy items for themselves or their household -- 71% of shoppers under 50 indicate they will do this, compared with 55% of those aged 50 and older.

Younger shoppers are also more likely than older shoppers to purchase a big-ticket item they have been putting off this year. Thirty-two percent of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers under age 50 say this, compared with 24% of Black Friday/Cyber Monday shoppers aged 50 and older.

The latest Shopify-Gallup survey finds 61% of holiday shoppers reporting they are at least somewhat likely to shop on Cyber Monday and 41% at least somewhat likely to shop on Black Friday.

These data indicate that Cyber Monday is eclipsing Black Friday as the bigger shopping day, consistent with holiday shoppers reporting in the September Shopify-Gallup survey that they will do much of their holiday shopping online.


Younger adults -- those under 50 -- are more likely to be shopping on both special sale days, although the skew is especially strong for Cyber Monday. Close to four in 10 holiday shoppers under age 50 are at least very likely to shop on Cyber Monday, compared with 26% of those aged 50 to 64 and 14% of those aged 65 and older. Meanwhile, about one in four holiday shoppers under age 50 plan to shop on Black Friday, compared with roughly 10% of older shoppers.


Parents are also relatively eager to shop, with 41% of holiday shoppers who have a child under age 18 planning to shop on Cyber Monday and 29% on Black Friday. That compares with 26% and 16%, respectively, among shoppers without young children.

Apparel, Gift Cards on Most Shoppers’ Holiday Lists

Apparel and accessories and gift cards are the two major categories of items that U.S. holiday shoppers say they are most likely to purchase this holiday season, with roughly six in 10 choosing each. Half say they will buy food or drink items such as gourmet food gift baskets and wine.

Just under half (45%), including 75% of parents with children under 18, plan to purchase children’s toys. About a third of holiday shoppers will buy electronics and health and beauty products, with smaller percentages looking to purchase kitchen appliances and cookware (20%), sports equipment (14%) or home furniture (7%).


Older shoppers stand out from younger shoppers in focusing on gift cards for holiday gifts. Sixty percent of older shoppers plan to buy gift cards, exceeding the 48% who plan to buy apparel and accessories and 45% food and drink.

Gift cards tie with apparel and accessories for the top item among middle-aged shoppers (those 30 to 49 and 50 to 64), while they are a close third to food and drink among younger shoppers, among whom shopping for apparel and accessories is the clear top choice.

Health and beauty products rank fourth on younger shoppers’ list this holiday season, with 18- to 29-year-olds being the only group featuring health and beauty items in their top four purchase categories.


Among the other notable differences in purchase intent:

  • Parents of children under 18 are nearly 20 percentage points more likely than non-parents to say they will purchase electronics this year, 48% to 30%.
  • Women are more likely than men to say they will buy apparel and accessories (67% to 55%), children’s toys (52% to 39%), and health and beauty products (40% to 22%).
  • In contrast, men are more likely than women to say they will buy electronics (41% to 31%).

Familiarity, Word-of-Mouth, In-Person Experience Most Helpful to Shoppers

Holiday shoppers say personal experience with a brand or product will be the most influential factor in their holiday purchase decisions, with 68% choosing it as one of the two most important factors. Referrals from friends or word-of-mouth ranks as the second most important factor, at 41%. About one in four say the desire to have an in-person shopping experience will be an important factor. Smaller proportions of holiday shoppers say that advertisements, email promotions or endorsements will influence their decisions.


Prior experience with the brand/product is the top factor among all key subgroups, especially higher-income consumers (76%), men (74%) and older consumers (74% of those aged 50 to 64 and 70% of those 65 and older).

Celebrity/Social media influencer endorsements are most important to shoppers aged 18 to 29 -- but still, only 8% of this group rank it as one of the most important factors in their holiday purchasing decisions.

Younger shoppers are also more likely than older shoppers to rank an in-person shopping experience as a key factor in their purchases, with 34% choosing it compared with no more than 25% in older age groups.

Shoppers Supportive of Small Businesses

Sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is Small Business Saturday, a day designed to promote holiday shopping at local small businesses. Most U.S. adults plan to shop at small businesses this holiday season -- if not on Small Business Saturday, then at some other point during the holiday season.

All told, 36% of holiday shoppers expect to shop at a small business on Small Business Saturday, while another 44% indicate they plan to shop at a small business on other days during the holiday season.


Small Business Saturday shopping intentions are greatest among middle-aged holiday shoppers, with 43% of those aged 30 to 49 and 41% of those aged 50 to 64 expressing an intention to shop that day. That compares with 27% of those who are under age 30 or aged 65 and older.


Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend is much more than an opportunity to score deals on holiday gifts ahead of the December rush. Consumers want to leverage the deals they find in-store and online to check items off their personal wish lists, stock up on items for the coming year, and in some cases, buy a big-ticket item they've been eyeing.

Younger shoppers plan to shop more actively on those days and are more likely to stray from their holiday shopping lists to pick up something for themselves.

The Small Business Saturday shopping crowd will have a different age skew, with more middle-aged shoppers planning to head out that day.

When deciding what to buy during the holiday season, shoppers will mostly rely on their own experience with a brand or product, what they hear from their family, friends and neighbors, or what knowledge they gain from an in-person shopping experience. And while people may think of younger shoppers as more tech-savvy and likely to use technology to buy things, they are the age group most likely to say an in-person shopping experience will be important in their holiday shopping decisions.

This article is the second in a series reporting on holiday shopping intentions as measured in the Shopify-Gallup Holiday Shopper Pulse survey.

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