Surprising number of Americans don’t get around to shopping until Christmas Day

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A new survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Punchbowl finds that half of Americans are last-minute shoppers. (Photo by Any Lane from Pexels)

Two in five Americans admit to being the worst gift-givers, according to new research.

The study asked 2,000 Americans about their gift-giving and holiday celebration habits and found 51% tend to wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping.

With 46% of respondents feeling like they’re bad at giving gifts, it’s no surprise that 60% always struggle to find the perfect gift — especially during the holidays.

Nearly a third of those surveyed said they often lose track of time and they feel like they never get the right gift to begin with.

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Punchbowl, the survey found that half of respondents have purchased a gift on Christmas Eve and 39% have even purchased a gift on Christmas Day.

Back in the days before the pandemic, 37% of pollsters have even left a holiday party to purchase a gift because they forgot to bring one.

That’s harder this year, when 29% of those polled were invited to virtual Christmas celebrations in lieu of in-person gatherings.

The top places to get last-minute gifts are local grocery stores (41%), drug stores (33%) — and liquor stores (30%).

Respondents were asked to share the worst last-minute gifts they’ve purchased, and they didn’t hold back. Answers ranged from a Chia Pet to a Voodoo doll — and even an autographed picture of Vanna White.

Last-minute gift buying may also just be due to sheer exhaustion brought on by the holidays.

Six in 10 respondents said they easily get overwhelmed by the volume of gifts they have to purchase.

Another 59% of those polled feel like shopping for the holidays has become more of a chore they have to do — and 58% said the same in regard to their holiday cards.

Half of respondents feel like they always send their Christmas cards too late, even though 60% intentionally wait to send their own cards until they receive cards from others, so they know who to send them to.

“This year more than ever people want to feel connected over the holidays,” said Matt Douglas, CEO, Punchbowl. “In 2020, we’ve seen unprecedented interest in digital greeting cards as more consumers turn to the ease and convenience of digital solutions.”

And if holiday shopping wasn’t difficult enough already, 62% of respondents shared the pandemic has only made things harder for them.

Seven in 10 respondents are buying more gifts online this year as a result of the pandemic, but 71% are also concerned about shipping delays.

As more Americans make the shift to online gifting, 68% of respondents said more people should embrace giving gift cards at the holidays.

A further 66% said that gift cards aren’t thoughtless gifts, but rather a sign that you really know what your recipient wants as a gift.

Seventy percent of respondents also said that they prefer to receive gift cards themselves so they can buy something they’ll truly enjoy.

“Sending a last-minute holiday gift does not need to be stressful,” Douglas continued. “Even consumers who wait until Christmas Eve or Christmas Day can send a thoughtful gift card instantly right inside a digital greeting card.”


I never know what to get for people — 41%
I lose track of time — 31%
I feel like I never get the right gifts — 31%
I prefer to wait so I have enough time to know what I want to buy — 27%

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Grocery store — 41%
Drug store — 33%
Liquor store — 30%
Deli/convenience store — 23%
Gas station — 23%

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The worst last-minute gifts Americans have purchased included …

Responses have been edited for length/clarity

A jar of peanuts
An oven mitt
Windshield wipers
A bottle of shampoo
A Voodoo doll
A Chia pet
A broken watch
Mouthwash, but they really needed it
Toilet paper
I got someone an autographed picture of Vanna White
Hydraulic fluid
Plastic silverware
An ashtray
Some matches

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