Christmas is just a few days away, and if you're reading this article to procrastinate buying your gifts, you aren't alone. On the contrary, millions of others late shoppers just like you have been waiting until the final days of the season to get their gifts.
According to data from Cardlytics, a credit card-linked marketing firm, late holiday shoppers make up 42 percent of all consumers in the final seven weeks of the year. They are defined by how frequently and often they make non-grocery retail purchases. These late shoppers are big spenders, shelling out an average of $770 in the final three weeks of the holidays. Their spending makes up the majority, 57 percent, of total dollars in that time frame. Here's a breakdown of the late shoppers:
This is a valuable group to advertisers, because the holiday shopping season is getting stretched longer from both sides: starting earlier and seeing more procrastination at the very end. This is why individual shopping days matter less now: while Black Friday sales are dropping, total holiday spending is seeing a positive forecast. These new dynamics—and the procrastinators—change how advertisers need to think about reaching consumers.
As far as your stock portfolio goes—these last-minute shoppers can't save you, however. Retail stocks are practically the worst trade you can make late in the year.
According to an analysis using Kensho, a quantitative tool used by hedge funds, the retail sector ETF (XRT in the chart below) is one of the worst performers over the last eight years in the days between Dec. 19 and Dec. 31. It loses out to the overall stock market and comes nowhere close to the nearly 4-percent gain seen by gold stocks in the final few days of the year.
So while there are more late shoppers, and they are spending big bucks, they probably won't be able to save your portfolio.
—CNBC's parent NBCUniversal is a minority investor in Kensho.