NRF: Holiday spending to increase even as shoppers cut budgets

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Consumers will take a conservative approach to spending this holiday season. According to NRF’s holiday consumer spending survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, the average holiday shopper will spend $737.95 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and more, 2% less than the $752.24 they actually spent last year. Despite this reduction in individual holiday budgets, NRF is forecasting holiday sales will increase 3.9% to $602.1 billion. NRF defines the holiday season as sales in the months of November and December and forecasts holiday sales growth each year based on U.S. Commerce Department data, such as previous months retail sales, the housing market and employment. NRF’s consumer spending surveys are not a part of the forecast model.

For the first time, NRF asked holiday shoppers if the political gridlock in Washington around U.S. fiscal concerns would affect their holiday spending plans. On average, 29% of respondents said the situation would somewhat or very likely affect their spending plans. Nearly one-third (32.7%) of those between the ages of 55 and 64 said political gridlock in Washington was somewhat or very likely to affect their spending, the highest percent among all age groups surveyed.

When asked specifically about the overall state of the economy and how it would affect their spending plans, more than half (51%) of consumers said the economy would in some way impact how they spend this holiday season. Specifically, 79.5% plan to spend less overall, looking to cut corners and tighten budgets where they can.

Other noteworthy results include:

  • 57% of shoppers will buy gifts for themselves, down from 59% last year.
  • Total spending on holiday decor will reach $6.8 billion.
  • 4-in-10 Americans will begin shopping before Halloween.
  • More than half of consumers (51.5%) will shop online, with the average person completing 39.5% of holiday shopping online, up from 38.8% last year.
  • Online holiday sales will grow 13% to 15% to as high as $82 billion.
  • 53.8% of smartphone owners and 63.2% of tablet owners will use their devices to make purchases, comparison shop and look up prices.
  • 6-in-10 Americans say they’d most like to receive gift cards.
  • 35.6% of respondents said the most important factor in deciding where to shop are offers for sales and discounts, along with 16.4% who say the most important factor is selection of merchandise and 13.6% who say it’s quality of merchandise. Around 3.4% rate free shipping or shipping promotions as the most important factor, up from 2.9% last year.


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