U.S. Holiday Spending Trends Upward

Total spending for the holiday season is expected to top between $678.75 billion and $682 billion.

NORTH AMERICA–As the holiday season begins to rev up, the National Retail Federation reports that consumers will spend an average of $967.13 this year, up 3.4 percent from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend last year.

The findings are part of the annual holiday spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the NRF.

Furthermore, total spending for holiday retail sales in November and December are expected to top between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, up 3.6 percent and 4 percent, respectively, from last year’s $655.8 billion. This year’s forecast would also meet or exceed last year’s growth of 3.6 percent and the five-year average of 3.5 percent.

Holiday spending is segmented into three main categories–gifts at $608.06; products such as food, decorations, flowers and cards at $218.08; and other non-gift items consumers buy for themselves and their families at $140.99.

For the 11th year in a row, gift cards are the most popular items among consumers (requested by 61 percent of those surveyed), followed by clothing and accessories (55 percent); books, music or movies (39 percent); consumer electronics (33 percent); home décor (24 percent); jewelry (23 percent); personal care or beauty items (21 percent); sporting goods (20 percent); and home improvement items (18 percent).

When it comes to actually making a purchase, most consumers (59 percent) said they would shop online. The survey also found that 57 percent will shop at a department store, 54 percent at a discount store, 46 percent at a grocery store/supermarket and 35 percent at a clothing or accessories store. In addition, 27 percent plan to visit an electronics store, 25 percent a small or local business and 18 percent will go to a crafts store.

Furthermore, most consumers will wait until at least November to begin shopping. However, 22 percent of consumers started, or were planning to start, in October, while 19 percent started in September or earlier. Of these early shoppers, 65 percent say they are trying to spread out their budgets while 49 percent do not want the stress of last-minute shopping and 49 percent want to avoid crowds.

Additionally, the survey also found that 27 percent of consumer says their spending will be impacted by concerns about the nation’s economy, down from 32 percent from last year’s election.

“While many consumers are holding off until November or later to start their holiday shopping, retailers should be prepared for high traffic online and in stores come Thanksgiving weekend as customers start tackling their lists,” says Pam Goodfellow, principal analyst, Prosper Insights. “Although sales will remain an important factor for most consumers, many will lean on convenient locations and easy-to-use websites or mobile apps along with free shipping to complete their purchases.”