National Retail Federation: Retailers Can Expect a Busy Holiday Season
With the holiday shopping season just around the corner, consumers say they will spend an average $967.13 this year, according to the annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics for the National Retail Federation. That’s up 3.4 percent from the $935.58 consumers said they would spend when surveyed at the same time last year.
“With employment and incomes increasing, consumers are more confident this year and that is reflected in their buying plans for the holidays,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Retailers have been stocking up in expectation of this, and all signs are that this will be a busy holiday season. Retailers are preparing for a rush of consumers leading into Thanksgiving and all through December, and are offering a wide array of merchandise and promotions so shoppers can find great gifts and great deals at the same time.”
The consumer survey comes on top of NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast, which takes into account a variety of economic factors, and projects that holiday retail sales in November and December this year will be up between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion.
The survey found that only 27 percent of consumers say their spending will be impacted by concerns about the nation’s economy, down from 32 percent during 2016’s election-year jitters and the lowest level since NRF began asking the question during the Great Recession in 2009.
Holiday spending comes in three main categories: gifts, at $608.06; items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards, at $218.08; and other non-gift items consumers buy for themselves and their families, at $140.99.
According to the 2017-2018 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey half of dog owners and 39 percent of cat owners buy gifts for their pets for Christmas or Hanukkah. The APPA survey also reveals that dog owners spend an average of $14 on any gift for their canines while cat owners spend an average of $12.
For the first time in survey history, online is the most popular shopping destination this year, cited by 59 percent of consumers. 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 clothing or accessories store. The survey found 27 percent plan to visit an electronics store, 25 percent a small or local business, and 18 percent will go to a crafts or fabrics store.
Most online shoppers will take advantage of free shipping (94 percent) and conveniences like buy online, pick up in store (49 percent). In addition, 19 percent will take advantage of expedited shipping and 12 percent will use same-day delivery.
Most consumers (59 percent) are waiting until at least November to begin holiday shopping. However, 22 percent started or were planning to start in October and 19 percent in September or earlier. Of the 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 48 percent want to avoid the crowds.
“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,” said Pam Goodfellow, Prosper Insights Principal Analyst. “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.”
The survey of 7,349 consumers was conducted October 3-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.