If you’re thinking the holiday shopping season has crept up sooner in the year than usual, you might be right.
The buying and selling "is off to an earlier start than any other holiday season I can remember," says Marshal Cohen, who follows retail as chief industry analyst for The NPD Group.
Because most big national retailers already have announced their Black Friday (and Thanksgiving day) hours and specials, shoppers have started mapping out strategies while others have headed for the stores, Cohen said.
How does he know this? He’s been alerted by NPD’s "Holiday Shop-o-Meter," a new tool powered by CivicScience that measures the percentage of holiday shopping consumers have completed.
This week, the Shop-o-Meter tells us that consumers have finished 8 percent of their shopping, and 2 percent of consumers have finished 80 percent to all of their shopping.
But they’re in the minority. About two thirds of shoppers haven’t started shopping yet.
"There are deals to be found before, during, and after the Thanksgiving weekend, compelling consumers to shop early and at all hours of the day as they seek the best deals of the year," Cohen said.
That's not to say the sales will come easily for retailers.
"It will be a real challenge for them to maintain the momentum throughout the season and avoid a deep post-Thanksgiving lull," Cohen said. "They will need to push hard to lure in the last-minute shoppers in the final two weeks of holiday crunch time."