Why do people leave holiday shopping until the last minute?


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – You might see people doing it today, jumping into the teeming masses to get some last-minute shopping done on Christmas Eve.

But is there a method to the madness?

Last-minute shoppers fall into two distinct categories says Kirstin Appelt, a behavioural scientist with UBC’s Sauder School of Business.
“So there’s the group of people who are doing and it’s well-planned, and then there’s the other group who are the procrastinators. And for them, they’ve probably been intending to get out to the stores for several weeks now but just haven’t gotten around to it.

“For those who are prepped and ready for today’s potential pandemonium, there are a couple reasons why they’ll put themselves through it.

“There are kind of two groups of people who do the last-minute shopping. Some are the ones who have been planning this out in advance and they know you can get some really deep discounts if you wait until the last minute,” says Appelt.

That strategy does come with risks.

“You do run the risk of products running out of stock on the shelves. But if the product is still in stock, there’s a good chance that there’s a pretty good sale on right now because the stores are trying to manage demand,” says Appelt.

But those who go in with a list a plan could be doing it for more than just the possibility of a bargain.

Some people look forward to the chaos.

“It makes it a bit of a game, challenge or competition where you’re fighting against the clock as well as your fellow shoppers to get the best deals in the least amount of time and also competing against the stores. So for some people, there is a rush of beating the deadline and getting it in at the buzzer,” says Appelt.

As for those who aren’t prepared for the final push, Appelt says it’s just in their nature.

“They just tend to procrastinate on everything. Maybe they have trouble planning and they thought they’d get the rest of their stuff done and that they’d have plenty of time to get shopping earlier and just poor planning.”

She adds there is definitely a trend developing.

“There’s evidence that this group of procrastinators, the last-minute shoppers is growing and they say that there’s pretty big bumps in peak sales moving from earlier in the season to later in the season so it seems to be a growing trend.”

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