By Steve Olenski December 13, 2018

A self-proclaimed massive coffee-imbiber, Steve has been writing for Forbes via his own column for 10 years. His diverse background—ranging from creative director and copywriter on the agency side to director of marketing and other roles on the marketing side affords him a very unique perspective on the world of marketing today. No one is more attuned to the state of marketing than Steve. On top of all this he is one of the most prolific content marketers and writers today.

Yes, I realize it’s now December—not exactly breaking news. And I realize that many a retailer is sweating out the remainder of the 2018 holiday shopping season, hoping they get that special gift of positive sales numbers.

But I’m here to tell you that there’s still time to make all your spirits bright and jingle some bells—cash register bells, that is. (And, yes, I realize cash registers don’t have bells anymore, nor are there many actual registers left—just play along.)

Why am I so positive?

How can I be so sure that even though it’s December there’s still plenty of time for retailers to hit the numbers or even exceed them?

One word: procrastination; AKA “the action of delaying or postponing something.”

To Be Human Is to Procrastinate

It is human nature that we procrastinate; put things off ‘til tomorrow or the next day. In fact, a study done in 2017 revealed that one in five people are chronic procrastinators. Think about that for a second.

Now apply that knowledge to the wonderful world of holiday shopping.

A few years ago, I worked on a research project with Oracle and Edison Research. The research was done via quantitative and qualitative approaches and, for the latter, we interviewed the same consumers both before AND after the holiday shopping season.

One of the questions posed to them was, when did they plan to do the bulk of their holiday shopping? As you can see through the view below, many who were interviewed indicated they would do the majority of their shopping a whole lot earlier than what actually happened.

In other words, procrastination is front and center.

 

Brick & Mortar vs. Online Retail

Another question posed to the qualitative group was their plan and preference when it came to shopping online vs. in-store.

As you can see, it was a mixed bag; some shoppers stuck to their guns and did what they had said before the holidays vs. after, while others had their best-laid plans go astray with some doing more in-store shopping than originally planned.

And speaking of storefront retail and the experiences therein, another question posed to holiday shoppers dealt precisely with that. They were asked what mattered most when it came to shopping in-store during the holidays.

Here are the top 3 things shoppers said were “very important” when it came to in-store holiday shopping followed by the complete list.

  1. Availability of sale items
  2. Quality of products on sale
  3. Merchandise selection/variety

What’s interesting is cleanliness of store, crowd control, and even the amount of a given discount were not as important as quality, availability and variety—three things that can absolutely be applied to the online shopping experience.

Shopping Procrastination: Evergreen as a Pine Tree

Yes, I realize the results shown above are from a few years ago and with the world we live in, a few years ago is akin to 10-15 years ago, given how fast things change today.

But there is no doubt in my mind that these same principles hold true today.

Holiday shoppers will procrastinate and wait as long as they humanly are able to before either starting and finishing their holiday shopping.

And they want what they want when they want it, be it in-store or online. If you can’t provide this, rest assured someone else will.