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Who are the biggest giftcrastinators in America?

There’s no time for the presents

Profile picture of Tom Rains
by Tom Rains ConsumerAffairs Research Team
woman holding shopping bags with christmas presents

The holidays are approaching, and ’tis the season to research consumers’ shopping habits. We ranked the biggest giftcrastinators (those who put off their holiday shopping until the last second) by generation, region, gender, income and shopping habits.

ConsumerAffairs’ data shows that Generation X has the most giftcrastinators (59%) and the silent generation (ages 75 and older) has the fewest (33%). It also unearths other interesting gift-buying statistics about these generations as well as millennials and baby boomers.

  • Which generation is the slowest at holiday shopping? Generation X (ages 35 to 54) has the most giftcrastinators — 20% of them are still shopping for holiday gifts in late December, the most of any generation. Even so, 42% of Gen Xers finish their holiday shopping before mid-December.
  • Who finishes shopping before November? The silent generation is speedy. Not only are most of them done by mid-December (67%), a whopping 13% finish before November. That’s in stark contrast to millennials (ages 25 to 34). No millennials who answered our survey said they finish holiday shopping before November.

Methodology: To determine the biggest giftcrastinators, we surveyed 474 consumers via email between Oct. 28 and Nov. 9, 2019, about their holiday shopping habits. We asked respondents when they finish their holiday shopping, how much they shop online and how often they shop on Black Friday. Respondents also shared data on their age, gender, income and place of residence. Read more

Who are the biggest giftcrastinators?

We use the term giftcrastinators to refer to those who wait until the last second to buy Christmas gifts. Gen X has the highest percentage of giftcrastinators — 20% put their holiday shopping off until late December, compared to an average of 11% for all other generations. We also found:

  • Men are more likely than women to put off holiday shopping.
  • Residents of the Western U.S., especially Californians, are more likely to purchase their gifts in late December.
  • Households earning more than $100,000 are more likely to procrastinate than members of other income brackets.

Which generation has the most giftcrastinators?

GenerationStill shopping in mid-December
Gen X59%
Boomers47%
Millennials44%
Silent generation33%

The results from the ConsumerAffairs holiday shopping survey indicate that a person’s generation is a strong predictor of their holiday shopping habits and preferences.

Do gift-buying habits vary by generation?
Yes, and it’s Generation X that procrastinates the most on holiday shopping. Although 8% of Gen Xers are done with their shopping before Halloween, 20% are still rushing around buying presents in late December. For comparison, only 12% of millennials, 7% of boomers and 3% of the silent generation are still shopping in late December.

Millennials were the second-fastest generation — 57% report finishing their holiday shopping by mid-December. Boomers were the third-fastest, with 53% finishing their shopping before mid-December.

But when it comes to speedy shopping, the silent generation leaves everyone else in the dust. A whopping two-thirds of those 75 or older are done shopping before mid-December.

Who does the most online shopping?
Millennials. Around 25% of them say they always shop online, and only 2% say they never shop online.

Other generations are open to shopping online, too. Boomers are close behind millennials, with 23% saying they always shop online. Rates drop with Gen X and the silent generation — only 16% of these generations say they always shop online. Online shopping is common among all ages — only 10% of the silent generation say they never shop online.

Which generation actually looks forward to Black Friday?
To find the true Black Friday fans, look to the millennials. Millennials are the only generation with more Black Friday superfans (29%) than people who never go out on Black Friday (20%).

You can find interest in Black Friday shopping among other generations, even if it isn’t as fervent. According to ConsumerAffairs’ survey data, 11% of boomers always do Black Friday, while 36% never do. For Gen X, 19% always do and 31% never do. The silent generation is the least dedicated to Black Friday — 6% say they always go out on Black Friday, but 52% say they never do.

What percent of people are still shopping through December?

RegionNov. 1Dec. 1Mid-DecemberLate December
West96%73%48%17%
South93%75%54%16%
Midwest93%74%50%14%
Northeast93%74%37%5%

We found that the region of the country a person lives in has a significant relationship with how early they finish their holiday shopping.

How do gift-buying habits vary by region?
Residents in the Western U.S. held true to their laidback reputation — a whopping 17% delay their holiday shopping until late December. That’s in stark contrast to Northeasterners, who only have 5% of their population still shopping in late December.

Even though a large percentage of Westerners wait until the last minute to complete their shopping, it could also be argued they get their shopping done faster than anyone else. That’s because they have the largest percentage of people who get their shopping done before Dec. 1: 27%.

Do different parts of the country like online shopping more?
Americans love to shop online, but Northeasterners love it the most. Around 26% of them always shop online for holiday presents, and only 2% say they never do their holiday shopping online. The South and Midwest are the least into online shopping — only 18% of Southerners say they always shop online, and 13% of Midwesterners say they never do, which is the largest percentage of any region.

Are men or women more likely to be giftcrastinators?

Holiday shopping habitsMenWomen
Finished before November4.72%6.89%
Finish before December22.83%25.76%
Finish in mid-December36.22%35.63%
Finish in late December15.75%13.47%
Always shop on Black Fridays14.17%16.22%
Online shopping93%95%

Gender does affect gift-buying habits, but it wasn’t as significant a factor in giftcrastination as region, age or income level.

Are men procrastinators?
More so than women. Around 16% finish of men their shopping in late December, whereas 13% of women do. Women are also more likely than men to finish their shopping before December (26% vs. 23%).
Do many women finish shopping extra early?
Compared to men, yes. We discovered that women are 69% more likely to finish shopping before Nov. 1. But still, only 7% of women finish shopping this early.
Do women like Black Friday more?
Yes. But only just. Around 16% of women say they always go out on Black Friday, compared to 14% of men. Apparently, good deals know no gender.
Do men like shopping online more?
No. Men are more likely to completely eschew online shopping. Around 7% of men say they never do holiday shopping online. Only 4.5% of women say the same.

Does giftcrastination vary by income?

Holiday shopping habitsLower incomeMiddle incomeHigh income
Finished before November6%5%7%
Finish before December28%23%22%
Finish in mid-December34%36%36%
Finish in late December13%14%18%
Shop on Black Fridays64%69%71%
Always shop online17%20%29%

Income level is a significant factor in how consumers shop around the holidays. High-income earners in particular have noticeably different shopping habits.

Does income affect when and how you buy gifts?
We found that gift-buying habits do vary by income. High earners are the biggest fans of shopping online. The ConsumerAffairs survey found 97% of those who make more than $100,000 annually complete at least some holiday shopping online, compared to 94% of those in lower- and middle-income brackets. However, people in lower-income brackets complete their shopping earlier.
Which income brackets shop the earliest?
Those with annual household incomes less than $40,000 are the most likely to finish their holiday shopping early. Those in lower-income brackets are not big on Black Friday — they are the least likely to always shop on Black Friday, and the most likely to never shop on Black Friday.
What are common shopping habits for the middle class?
Those in the middle-income bracket are the least likely to finish their shopping before December. They’re also not huge Black Friday shoppers — 12% say they always shop on Black Friday, and 31% say they never do. Overall, the middle class is fairly representative of the U.S. as a whole for when they complete their shopping: 5% before November, 18% in November, 63% in early or mid-December, and 14% in late December. The middle class also likes shopping online — only 4% say they never do their holiday shopping online, compared to 7% of the rest of the population.
Which income bracket likes Black Friday the most?
We quickly learned from our survey that high-income earners are fans of Black Friday. Around 71% always or sometimes shop on Black Friday, and 27% of high-income earners say they go Black Friday shopping every year. High earners are big giftcrastinators, too. Around 54% of them aren’t done shopping when the middle of December rolls around, as opposed to 48% of everyone else.

How can I avoid being a giftcrastinator?

Do online shoppers finish their shopping earlier?
The convenience of shopping online pays off for people trying to finish early. Of those who say they always do holiday shopping online, 34% finish their holiday shopping before Dec. 1. Of those who say they sometimes or never shop online, just 24% finish their holiday shopping by Dec. 1.
Do Black Friday shoppers finish their shopping early?
Even though they're shopping in November, Black Friday shoppers are more likely to finish their holiday shopping in late December than those who never shop on Black Friday (16% vs. 11%). The majority of Black Friday devotees still finish their holiday shopping before mid-December, though.

More information on methodology

The research department at ConsumerAffairs wanted to know more about the gift-shopping habits of ordinary Americans. In our survey, we asked a cross-section of Americans when they finish their holiday shopping, how much they shop online and how often they shop on Black Friday. We used this data to analyze these shopping habits and find out who the worst gift-buying procrastinators are in America. We also asked about gender, income, place of residence and age. Keep reading to see how we organized our data.

Here’s how we classified the states:

gift-crastinator map by region

We classified the generations like this:

  • Millennials: 18 - 34 years old
  • Gen X: 35 - 54 years old
  • Boomers: 55 - 74 years old
  • Silent generation: 75 years old and above

Here’s how we classified household incomes:

  • Low-income: $0 - $38,999
  • Middle-income: $39,000 - $99,999
  • High-income: $100,000+
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Profile picture of Tom Rains
by Tom Rains ConsumerAffairs Research Team

Tom Rains graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2014 with a master’s degree in Professional Writing. Tom’s passion for delivering quality content fuels him to provide consumers with accurate, well-researched information on major life purchases.