When Customers Aren’t Holiday Shopping, They’ll be Streaming

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The winter holiday season is a critical time for retail. November and December holiday sales average around 19% of total retail sales, per the NRF, and this share can be even higher for some department stores and specialty retailers. Emarketer anticipates that holiday retail sales will grow 4.5% this year to surpass $1.3 trillion. The stakes have never been higher!

But what retailers might not know is that the holidays are also the biggest season for streaming. When customers aren’t actively searching and shopping for gifts, they are spending an elevated amount of time watching their favorite TV shows and movies — especially holiday classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Elf.1 

For retailers eager to know the best channel to reach and engage shoppers throughout the season, the answer is TV streaming — where brands can take advantage of the biggest TV consumption time of the year. In many ways, the same trends we see in consumers’ Q4 shopping behaviors mirror their TV viewership.  

Here are three holiday trends for retailers to tap into across shopping and streaming.


1. The Season Starts Early

The tradition of holiday shopping starting on Black Friday is no longer the norm, as the season begins earlier each year. Given inflation and price sensitivity, consumers are kicking off shopping early to stretch their gifting budgets.  

Last year, the NRF found that 60% of shoppers started browsing and buying for the season by early November. In particular, holiday spending has been pulled forward by Amazon’s Prime Early Access Sale, which happens in October. In fact, Emarketer saw the ecommerce growth rate this October surpass those of November and December 2022. 

If retailers are only prioritizing their marketing dollars from Black Friday through Christmas Day, they’re likely missing out on an audience that has already begun their holiday shopping. 

The desire to start the holiday festivities early extends into what consumers are watching at home. Searches for holiday favorites like Home Alone on Roku began 16 days earlier last year than the year before, with the average first search for a holiday title starting the first week of October. 1 

By strategically surrounding the cheer of holiday movies and TV shows beginning as early as October, marketers can avoid the consumer fatigue that can inevitably happen during an elongated shopping season. The key is for your brand to be where people are willingly seeking out the joy of the holidays, like those moments when they are unwinding at home watching festive TV titles with loved ones. 

2. Thanksgiving Weekend is Still an Opportune Window

Despite consumers shopping for holiday gifts earlier than ever, Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday is still a pivotal period for brands. The NRF reported that 122 million people visited retail stores over Thanksgiving weekend last year, a 17% YoY increase during this five-day period.

This is a promising sign, as Forbes found that not only has in-store shopping returned to pre-pandemic norms, but ecommerce also grew at the same time. Cyber Monday broke records last year as the largest retail ecommerce sales day in U.S. history. Per Adobe Analytics, consumers spent $11.3 billion online!

Meanwhile, on the same day, Roku streamers spent over 273 million hours watching TV. 1 Overall, Thanksgiving weekend was the third-most-active streaming weekend in 2022, behind New Year’s weekend (#1) and Christmas weekend (#2). 1

Retailers must prioritize Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday as the five-day period to maximize share of voice and separate their deals from the rest of the Q4 clutter. Beyond the boost in viewership during this weekend, TV streaming also offers unique reach tools to ensure that your brand’s message can get optimal coverage and conquer competitors. The goal is to get your campaign in front of the most viewers possible during this significant shopping window.  

3. Don’t Forget About the ‘5th Quarter’ 

If you’ve ever hit the mall right after Christmas to return an ugly sweater or ill-fitting pair of jeans, you know the holiday shopping season extends well past Christmas. Last year 70% of holiday shoppers planned to shop the week after Christmas to take advantage of holiday sales or spend gift cards before they were forgotten, according to the NRF. This “5th Quarter” from Christmas to mid-January provides retailers the opportunity to move unsold or leftover merchandise with a continued push for post-holiday sales. 

Apart from shopping for post-holiday deals, consumers also will be actively setting up the new devices and gadgets they were gifted for the holidays. Christmas is historically the largest day for new Roku account creation — causing an uptick in streaming audience reach. 1 During Q5, TV viewers are also still enjoying their downtime and spending an above-average amount of time streaming.

The takeaway for retailers is that there isn’t a hard stop to holiday cheer, and brands can extend the deals and savings well into 2024. It will be important for these brands to continue their marketing efforts, especially on TV streaming platforms, which continue to experience increased reach and engagement. Continue to run targeted campaigns and your brand will reap the rewards. 

In anticipation of the 2023 winter holiday season, we expect consumer streaming and shopping to trend similarly — the season will start early, experience elevation around shopping windows like Thanksgiving weekend and continue into Q5. For retail marketers looking at where and how to effectively reach holiday shoppers, look no further than their living rooms, as they’ll be streaming more than ever.

1 Roku Internal Data, Analysis of Q4 2022

Madeline Ware is the Ad Marketing Manager for Retail, Tech, Telco and Auto at Roku, the #1 TV streaming platform in the U.S. She crafts industry-specific, data-driven strategies for companies to tap into the power of TV streaming advertising, reach audiences at scale and drive tangible business results.

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