With #GraceGiving movement, Christmas Eve is no longer retail’s last call for holiday shopping

peter frost

It’s giving season, but the clock is ticking. And most reading this story today already are running up against the deadline to get gifts shipped to their homes in time for holiday celebrations.

Advantage Solutions Chief Communications Officer Kelli Hammersmith has a message: She’s been there. And it’s OK to miss what she says is an artificial deadline.

That’s why this week she’s kicking off a new movement called #GraceGiving, which aims to extend the giving season for the week beyond Christmas under the rule, “If the tree is still up and the decorations still hung, you still have time to gift the people you love.”

Hammersmith, a millennial mom to a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old, says the concept is driven by changes in shopping patterns; deal-minded and budget-stretched consumers, including those navigating the return of student loan repayments and reductions in SNAP benefits; and — most of all — the concept of extending grace to one another, to grant permission to gift on one’s own terms and on their own time.

“For the moms and magic makers out there, the #GraceGiving grace period is the solution to save our sanity and an invitation to invest in self-care,” Hammersmith says. 

Formalizing an existing trend

Data show plenty of shoppers already take advantage of this grace period — even if they’re not openly talking about it, save for coy text strings with their closest friends. Some 70% of holiday shoppers said they planned to shop the week after Christmas, according to a National Retail Federation survey. December 26, also known as Boxing Day, is projected to be the sixth-busiest holiday shopping day in the U.S. this year, per Sensormatic Solutions.

“With this kind of runway, Christmas Eve is no longer retail’s last call for the holiday season,” Hammersmith says.

The period immediately following Christmas represents an important sales window for retailers and manufacturers, as well, giving them the opportunity to move through holiday goods – often at discounts – to make way for post-holiday resets. The savvy sellers also use this window to build new and deeper connections with shoppers whose needs span from post-holiday personal indulgences and wellness items to late-season gifts for their extended network of family and friends.

And with the rise of so-called social shopping, the #GraceGiving season offers an opportunity for brands and their influencers to sharpen their selling skills on social media platforms, including the emerging TikTok Shop.

“I fully expect to get re-inspired by some #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt moments,” Hammersmith quips. But the momentum the platform has built, particularly among women, is no joke.

Nearly 40.5% of women who have made a purchase on a social platform say they’ve done so on TikTok Shop, according to the Advantage Social Commerce Survey conducted in November. Combined with Instagram, Facebook and other sites, nearly 60% of women report making purchases through social media sites at least once a month, per the survey, which polled 1,120 Americans.  

And even those who aren’t purchasing directly online are mining the sites for gift ideas, often after the final Christmas delivery window has passed.

“If you’ve spent any time social shopping, you’ve discovered great ideas for gifts, but we all want to trust our decisions. It helps when we can test what our favorite influencers are claiming online,” she says. “If you’re like me, you want to pop into a store or score a digital sample to smell the lotion, try those beauty products and taste the components of that charcuterie board you bookmarked online.”

From virtual to reality

Plenty of shoppers, in fact, are just like Hammersmith. Some 80% of U.S. shoppers report that their brick-and-mortar purchases are influenced by digital touchpoints on their path to purchase, according to a recent report from MikMak and Circana. The report projects U.S. digital-influenced sales to reach $3.8 billion by 2027.

What’s more, 94% of consumers prefer to sample a product before making a purchase, according to a 2023 Advantage Solutions survey of members of a large national club retailer. Sampling or testing a product before a purchase translates into trust, which in turn translates to repeat purchases, fewer returns and improved consumer satisfaction.

With more shoppers discovering perceived must-haves during their online social surfing later in the season, Hammersmith says, it’s time to set new expectations for when gifts should arrive.

“The whole idea with #GraceGiving is allowing the artificial deadlines of the past to remain there,” Hammersmith says. “We now have permission to enjoy this new grace period to invest in what moves us most.”

And if that means there are fewer gifts under the tree on Christmas morning, so be it.