Americans are shopping earlier than ever for the holidays.

Matt Rainey, Getty Images

We are still weeks away from Thanksgiving and yet, millions of Americans already have started their holiday shopping. Early October promotions struck a chord with shoppers, 53.8 percent of which say they are making progress on their holiday lists.  According to the National Retail Federation's holiday consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, just 46.2 percent admit they have not started shopping yet, the smallest percent in the survey's history.

"Shopping early has become a very real trend with consumers today as they look for ways to spread out their budget and retailers have answered their call with attractive holiday offerings as early as October," said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.  "Holiday shoppers will have ample opportunities to find the perfect gift; whether online using free shipping or in store on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, given the competitive nature of the season, consumers will be the clear winners this year."

Consumers will shop for both value and price when checking items off their lists this year as many are planning to spend slightly less than they did last year.  Clothing and accessories top the list of the most popular items consumers plan to spend their money on.

According to the survey, six in 10 will splurge on fashion and apparel items and other accessories, 59.2 percent will spend on gift cards, 44.3 percent will buy toys, 23.3 percent will purchase jewelry and 19 percent will spend on sporting goods and leisure items.

Tablets and smart watches will top the electronics lists this year as 33 percent will buy electronics or computer items, which is up from 31.8 percent last year.

"Even with smaller budgets this year, consumers will still splurge on popular discretionary-type gifts for their friends and family, but will shop around and compare prices as they've done for years," said Pam Goodfellow, director of Prosper's Consumer Insights.  "Looking for inspiration online and on their social media channels, many budget-conscious shoppers will also look for ways to surprise their loved ones with homemade and personal gifts."

The survey also found that shoppers prefer to use money they already have or have saved up for holiday gifts.  More than four in 10  will use on debit cards, 25.4 percent will use cash and 2.4 percent will pay with a check. About three in 10, 28.5 percent, will charge their gifts.

Thanksgiving and Black Friday Hours for major retailers (The Associated Press)


Best Buy Stores — Open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Friday.

J.C. Penney — Open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 9 p.m. on Friday.

Kohl's — Open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until midnight on Saturday.

Macy's — Open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until about 10 p.m. on Friday at most stores

Sears — Open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Friday.

Kmart — Open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving until 11 p.m. on Friday.

Staples — Open at 8 p.m. until midnight on Friday. Reopen at 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday.

Target — Open at 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 11 p.m. on Friday.

Toys R Us — Open at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving until 10 p.m. on Friday.

Wal-Mart — Open 24 hours at most stores