Google Trends and Christmas. What Do Customers in the USA Buy During the Festive Season?

The holiday season is upon us… And what does this mean for online stores? It’s high time to prepare your offer in advance to effectively boost sales in the next 2 months. Would you like to find out what are the shopping trends among customers in the USA? When do they start looking for Christmas gifts and what do they usually buy for their loved ones and friends? I’ve got you covered!

In this article, I present all key trends (as well as some statistics), mostly based on the reliable Google Trends tool.

How Much Money Do Americans Spend On Christmas Gifts?

Americans just love buying Christmas gifts! And they are willing to spend quite a lot of money on them. But how much exactly? Statista asked customers in the United States the following question: “Roughly how much money do you think you personally will spend on Christmas gifts this year?” and here are the results from 1999 to 2019:

As you can see, the average American in recent years has estimated that he or she will spend about $800–850 on Christmas presents (2016 — $752, 2017 — $862, 2018 — $794, 2019 — $846).

These are, of course, only the projected budgets that Americans plan to spend on Christmas gifts. But the truth is that quite often we spend more than we plan, right? When it comes to Christmas shopping, this happens as well. Take a look at the chart below, it presents for which things usually the planned budget is exceeded:

As statistics show, in 2019, 90.5% of people spent more than they expected on Christmas gifts. Besides, budgets are also often increased for food (32.8%) and decorations (13.7%).

When Do People Start Looking for Christmas Gifts?

If you think that people start looking for Christmas presents in December, then you couldn’t be more wrong. They search for presents for their loved ones much earlier! How do we know that? Here, Google Trends, which for years has been gathering data on what is searched for by users around the world, proves to be extremely helpful.

So when exactly do users start thinking about Christmas gifts? Only when they come back from holiday and buy all the necessary stuff for school or college, i. e. in mid-October and at the end of that month. Let’s compare the Google search trend of the phrase “Christmas gift” over the last few years.

In 2017, an increase of popularity of this phrase (a value higher than 10) was noticeable in the week 29 October-4 November, in 2018, it was even earlier — 21–27 October, in 2019–27 October-2 November. As you can see, while some people look for spooky Halloween costumes, others already search for Christmas gifts.

What’s interesting, this year the trend of looking for Christmas gifts has already begun (during the week: 18–24 October)! So if you want to increase sales before Christmas, you have no time to lose!

Be aware that before Christmas there are 2 important occasions when people may be more willing to look for gifts, these are Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Both phrases, “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday” show a very short, but really powerful, trend which clearly indicates that in this period (mostly at the end of November) you may expect increased pre-Christmas sales so be well-prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday — offer customers some discounts or free shipping.

In December, customers also buy some gifts at Christmas sales — you should keep in mind that the trend of searching for Christmas gifts ends no sooner than on the 25th of December. After all, some people buy last-minute gifts!

What Are the Main Challenges for Online Store Owners?

If you run your own online store, you must be properly prepared for the pre-Christmas web traffic already in October. At peak moments, you should ensure that everything in your store runs smoothly — below, I will discuss it in more detail. For the Christmas season, it is worth launching the “send as a gift” option (for example, at Amazon, this box is called “This is a gift”). This way, customers will be able to order a particular gift directly to the recipient with no invoices or bills inside the parcel. Another great option valued by users is the possibility to pack orders in gift boxes.

You also should take good care of last-minute customers, so it would be best to provide them with an express shipping option — remember that here not the website is responsible for the success, but the entire logistics of your online store, i.e. the number of staff who are responsible for the timely shipment of their orders.

Who Do Americans Buy Gifts For?

You already know how much Americans spend on Christmas and when they look for gifts. Now it is time to consider: who do they buy gifts for? The actual trends in this area reflect keywords with the highest search volume in SEMrush.

source: semrush.com

As you can see, users most often search for gifts for their loved ones: mom, dad, boyfriend, girlfriend, or wife. Note that it is slightly less popular to search for gifts for teachers, coworkers, or friends. Of course, that depends on the state, for example, most people want to buy gifts for their moms in Delaware, Rhode Island, Montana, New Hampshire, or Kansas, and much less in California, New Mexico, or Mississippi.

Does it really matter? Well, partially it does — if you run a local business in one state, then you should adjust your marketing campaigns and product range to the needs and demands of local customers.

Have you ever heard of the concept called “wegifting”? It involves giving other people gifts that we can use as well. What’s interesting, this trend is popular mainly in the USA where 74% of people choose these gifts for others, which they can use too. Consider which products in your offer may be perfect as “wegifts”.

What Types of Gifts Do Americans Choose?

You already know how much Americans are willing to spend on gifts for their loved ones and friends and when they start looking for them, but the key question is: what types of gifts do Americans love most? Do they choose books, perfumes? Or maybe vouchers?

Statista analyzed holiday gifts that the American customers plan to buy (the survey has been conducted each year since 2012) and here are the results:

Source: statista.com

Americans love buying mainly gift cards and clothes — this trend has been continuing for many years. Also in 2020, these 2 types of gifts are the most frequently chosen by American customers (gift cards — 48%, clothing — 43%). And what else do customers in this country choose as the perfect gift? These are, above all, games, toys and dolls (40%), books (36%), cosmetics, fragrances, beauty products (29%), or jewelry (24%).

I would like to pay your attention to one fact — more and more Americans want to give handmade gifts (according to SEMrush, the phrase “DIY Christmas gifts” has a very large search volume: 27,100). So maybe it would be good to consider introducing some handmade products to your range or at least create a nice piece of blog content presenting the best ideas for DIY gifts.

What Does All This Mean For E-Commerce?

For online stores, this means that you have to be prepared in advance for Christmas sales. What do you have to keep in mind when preparing for Christmas in e-commerce?

  1. Website optimization, which consists of elements such as:
  • posting Christmas-related content, e.g.: guides on how to choose a perfect gift for your mom or friend, where do Christmas traditions come from, ideas for DIY gifts, ways to save money during Christmas shopping, etc.
  • checking if the page loading speed is fast enough;
  • optimizing for mobile devices;
  • reducing 404 errors for products that have been removed from your offer and creating redirects to similar products that may attract users’ attention.
  1. Christmas discounts. This is the best way to attract potential customers and increase web traffic; it can be free shipping, delivering an order as a gift, etc. We can also prepare Christmas gift cards for those who can’t decide on anything particular.
  2. A separate Christmas page. Since users are looking for Christmas ideas, it would be good to prepare a separate section for them on your website. This will make it easier for them to find what they need. Besides suggesting products perfect for gifts, you can also present sets of products suitable for specific target groups: people of particular character, interests, or age. You should give the option to sort products by price, e.g. from the lowest to the highest.
  3. Google Ads campaign. Before Christmas, it is worth planning a targeted campaign on Google. Paid ads are also a great idea to increase traffic, especially if your online store is displayed in the search results on keywords with the greatest potential.
  4. Fast customer service. You already know that there are plenty of last-minute customers during the pre-Christmas season. That’s why your staff responsible for direct customer service should operate flawlessly, even better than during the rest of the year.
  5. Don’t offer more than you can handle. There is no point in taking thousands of orders a day if you are not able to handle them. As simple as that! If you don’t have enough employees in your warehouse, in your customer service team, or people responsible for packing and shipping parcels, then orders will not be completed. That’s why each of the solutions introduced to your online store for the Christmas season should be well planned and adjusted to your capabilities. During this period, especially in the case of last-minute customers, even the smallest mistake and failure to deliver orders may result in many negative comments on social media or on forums. And that’s not what you want, right?

You have probably wondered more than once what kind of gifts to choose to make your loved ones completely satisfied with it. Believe me, many people don’t like the gifts they received, so they look for ways to express them. Offer in your online store an extended return time — this way, more customers will choose your store! Take a look at the trends of the phrase “Christmas gift swap” — people look for the best ways to swap their gifts right after Christmas:

Be Prepared for the Holiday Season!

American customers start looking for the best Christmas gifts already in October. What does this mean for your online store? You need to introduce Christmas-targeted marketing strategies and products as soon as possible. You have no time to lose! Although some Americans look for last-minute gifts right before Christmas, the greatest potential for increased sales is in November.

Would you like to discover how to prepare your online store for the Christmas season, take a look at our guide or contact us — our SEO experts will optimize your e-commerce store and boost web traffic.

I am affiliate marketer and promote the One Funnel Away Challenge.

Happy Christmas!

I am an affiliate marketer and promote the One Funnel Away Challenge. I am also an SEO Expert and write a lot about it. Keep watching this space for more!

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