November 25, 2016 - East Cobb - Black Friday shoppers wait to check out at Kohl’s in East Cobb. Kohl’s was among retailers opening Thursday evening and staying open until midnight Friday, nearly 30 hours later. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Why are there so many last-minute shoppers?

The Christmas shopping season is coming to a close. So, anyone who is still looking to make holiday purchases is likely part of a subset known as last-minute shoppers.

According to a new holiday retail insights report from Atlanta-based marketing data firm Cardlytics, this collection of retail procrastinators are one of four distinct types of purchasers. Last-minute shoppers is one group. The other three are the early birds, Black Friday warriors and consistent shoppers.

And the firm’s latest research points out that last-minute shoppers are a growing trend in recent Christmas shopping seasons.

Utilizing consumer spending data from 2013 through 2015, the report found that last-minute shoppers account for 31 percent of all holiday shoppers.

“On average, last-minute shoppers spent about $800 the last week before Christmas in 2015,” said Dani Cushion, chief marketing officer at Cardlytics. “It’s significant from a consumer standpoint what is being spent in that short time frame.”

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Last-minute shoppers also tend to be online shoppers. Compared to the rest of the year, the online share of retail spending increases by 3.6 percent during the holiday season. This is especially true at the end of the holiday shopping season, with nearly 15.4 percent of all online holiday purchases happening the week before Christmas.

Overall, online shopping increased from 20 percent to 22 percent of overall holiday shopping. While the number is increasing, it also means that nearly four of every five purchases still take place in brick-and-mortar stores.

Early Birds make up only 15 percent of holiday shoppers, the smallest of the four segments. Typically, this group has most or all holiday shopping done before Black Friday.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers account for 22 percent of shoppers, though the group has shrunk in recent seasons due to the increase in last-minute shoppers and the introduction of early November deals by some retailers.


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“People are shopping both earlier and later,” Cushion said. “The Black Friday and Cyber Monday spike has flattened out.”

The last group, consistent shoppers, accounts for nearly 32 percent of all shoppers. As the name suggests, this segment shops throughout November and December, gradually checking off items on the Christmas list.

Rochelle Porter, an Avondale Estates resident, launched her own line of home decor, textiles and soft furnishings in 2015. She attended an event recently aimed at late holiday shoppers and said sales were strong.

“I was part of the Indie Craft Experience…at the Yaarab Temple on Ponce de Leon Avenue,” Porter said. “It was marketed as a last-minute shopper event, and there were people lined up outside the door before it opened.”

Porter has worked to target online shoppers through an email list, though most of her purchases take place in person.

“A third of the people coming by my booth…were shoppers on my mailing list who could have easily bought online but wanted to check it out in person before purchasing,” she said. “My products are tactile; the product is vibrant and soft. People wanted to interact with it first.”

The Indie Craft event was Porter’s last show before Christmas, but she expects to continue raking in sales throughout the next week.

“Oh yeah, people wait until the last minute all the time,” she said.

While online shopping is expected to continue playing a large role in late shopping this season, Cushion sounded a warning for last-minute online shoppers: be careful how late you shop and how much trust you place on expected delivery times.

“Some online players are getting it right, and some are not with regard to supply chain,” Cushion said. “Consumers could be disappointed if the supply chain is not in place and functioning as well as it could. If you’re going to wait, make sure you believe in the people who are going to deliver it for you.”

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