73% will shop last minute

Procrastinators are in the driver's seat this holiday with a whopping 73 percent of U.S. holiday shoppers planning to wait until the last minute.

The National Retail Federation said 57 percent of shoppers had begun holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, but as the season progressed a new pattern has emerged, according to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. An earlier research note from RetailMeNot reported that 91 percent of U.S. shoppers have waited until the last minute to buy holiday gifts.

The number of procrastinators has dropped slightly from last year when 79 percent said they would shop last minute, according to the latest American Express Spending and Saving Tracker. Most (44 percent) are waiting for better deals closer to the holiday but 22 percent are still waiting until they have enough money saved up, a number unchanged from 2014. Time constraints are another factor as 20 percent of shoppers simply can't find the time to buy, up from 16 percent in 2014.

E-commerce is up, however, with 51 percent of shoppers buying online this season.

"As we enter the final stretch of the shopping season, we are seeing a growing preference to complete shopping online, possibly connected to the stream of enticing retail offers in consumers' inboxes," Jed Scala, senior-VP of consumer lending at American Express said.

Retailers should take note that shoppers aren't just waiting until Christmas Eve, but a good many are waiting for Dec. 26 with nearly 21 percent of shoppers planning to buy presents for the following year.

"Dec. 26 has arguably emerged as its own shopping holiday, outranking the number of people who expected to shop on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (66 percent on Dec. 26 vs. 45 percent on Black Friday and 47 percent on Cyber Monday)," notes the report. "This year, more respondents than ever before plan to get some retail therapy on the day after Christmas (vs. 64 percent in 2014), spending an average of $186 (vs. $192 in 2014)."

For more:
-See this year's American Express Spending and Saving Tracker report

Related stories:
30% of consumers do majority of shopping Christmas week
Holiday procrastinators still exist and spend more
136M to shop Thanksgiving weekend
NRF airs 'This is Retail'
Sales to rise 2.4% this holiday season

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