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Winter Holiday Shopping - US - August 2015

"Retailers have their work cut out for them during the 2015 winter holiday season given that 2014 was touted as one of the strongest in recent years. However, positive economic factors like higher consumer confidence, lower gas prices, and an improving job market signal that comping over 2014 is attainable. A majority of consumers state intentions to start shopping prior to Thanksgiving, and to conduct most of their shopping online."
- Diana Smith, Senior Research Analyst - Retail & Apparel

This report discusses the following key issues:

  • Signs are positive for a strong winter holiday season 
  • The endless cycle of deals and discounts
  • Consumers are shopping on their own terms

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Signs are positive for a strong winter holiday season
            • Figure 1: Total US retail sales in November and December, at current prices, 2005-15
          • The endless cycle of deals and discounts
            • Figure 2: Deal-seeking attitudes and behaviors, April 2015
          • Consumers are shopping on their own terms
            • Figure 3: Number of gifts planned to buy online, April 2015
          • The opportunities
            • Gift cards remain a hot commodity
              • Figure 4: Items likely to be purchased as gift vs. desired for self during 2015 winter holiday season, April 2015
            • Stay nimble to appeal to planners and procrastinators
              • Figure 5: Planned winter holiday shopping timeline, April 2015
            • Invigorate the magic of the holidays
              • Figure 6: Desired holiday shopping improvements, April 2015
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • $700 billion in retail sales estimated for 2015 season
                • Stronger economy linked to higher consumer confidence
                  • Shopping done online and via mobile devices will increase
                    • Spending more doesn’t equate to willingness to pay more
                    • Market Size

                      • 2015 holiday season slated for growth
                        • Figure 7: Total US retail sales in November and December, at current prices, 2005-15
                        • Figure 8: Total US retail sales in November and December as a share of total annual retail sales, 2005-15
                      • Bar was set high in 2014 season
                        • Figure 9: Anticipated average expenditures for winter holidays, at current prices, 2009-14
                    • Market Factors

                      • People are more positive about personal finances vs. economy at large
                        • Figure 10: Outlook on personal financial situation vs. American economy in coming 12 months, August 2013-September 2014
                      • Higher confidence levels mean potentially higher discretionary spending
                        • Gross domestic product and disposable personal income see gains
                          • Shoppers remain price-sensitive
                            • Length of time between major holidays affects anticipated sales forecasts
                              • Tools and technology are changing the retail landscape
                                • Changes in shipping practices can impact retailers and consumers alike
                                • Key Strategies – What You Need to Know

                                  • Being nimble can pay off
                                    • Always on deal
                                      • Free and fast
                                      • What’s Working?

                                        • Stronger economy will work in retailers’ favor, but opportunity exists to recapture holiday magic
                                          • In their words
                                          • What’s Struggling?

                                            • Have Black Friday and Cyber Monday lost their lustre?
                                              • Black Friday: In their words
                                                • Avoiders
                                                  • Fanatics
                                                  • What’s Next?

                                                    • Above all, online shoppers want free shipping
                                                        • Figure 11: Desired holiday shopping improvements, April 2015
                                                      • On demand everything
                                                      • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                        • Consumers continue to treat themselves
                                                          • The holiday season is getting longer
                                                            • Online shopping will again be dominant
                                                              • Peer-to-peer reviews and social media can aid in decision making
                                                              • Purchased and/or Desired Items

                                                                • Food and beverages are most commonly purchased items
                                                                  • Gift cards have broad appeal
                                                                      • Figure 12: Correspondence Analysis, items purchased during 2014 winter holiday season, April 2015
                                                                      • Figure 13: Items likely to be purchased as gift vs. desired for self during 2015 winter holiday season, April 2015
                                                                    • ‘Tis the season to treat myself
                                                                      • Figure 14: Attitudes toward big-ticket items, April 2015
                                                                    • Self-gifting: In their words
                                                                      • I treat myself
                                                                        • Gifts are for others
                                                                        • When Consumers Plan to Start Shopping

                                                                          • High intention to begin shopping prior to the holidays
                                                                              • Figure 15: Planned winter holiday shopping timeline, April 2015
                                                                            • Black Friday in the red?
                                                                            • Shopping Behavior and Preferences

                                                                              • All bets are off: Online will be the big winner
                                                                                  • Figure 16: Number of gifts planned to buy online, April 2015
                                                                                • Online vs. in-store
                                                                                  • Mobile shopping set to take off
                                                                                    • Figure 17: Activities consumers planned to do on smartphones vs. tablets for holiday shopping, October 2014
                                                                                  • The “right” item can trump price
                                                                                    • Figure 18: Preference for product selection versus price, April 2015
                                                                                • Holiday Shopping Influencers

                                                                                  • Advertising is a given; it’s the go-to-market strategy that matters
                                                                                    • Social channels provide inspiration
                                                                                      • User reviews can make or break a purchase
                                                                                        • So many choices, so little time
                                                                                          • Figure 19: Shopping influencers during the holidays, April 2015
                                                                                        • In their words
                                                                                          • User reviews
                                                                                            • Technology and tools
                                                                                              • Mobile couponing
                                                                                                • Yes, please
                                                                                                  • No thanks
                                                                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                                                                    • Data sources
                                                                                                      • Sales data
                                                                                                        • Consumer survey data
                                                                                                          • Consumer qualitative research
                                                                                                            • Abbreviations and terms
                                                                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                • Terms
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Market

                                                                                                                    • Figure 20: Total US retail sales in November and December, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2005-15
                                                                                                                    • Figure 21: Anticipated winter holiday expenditures, in current dollars, 2009-14
                                                                                                                    • Figure 22: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-May 15
                                                                                                                    • Figure 23: Real gross domestic product and related measures: percent change from preceding period, 2008-Q1 2015
                                                                                                                    • Figure 24: Real disposable personal income: percent change from preceding periods, 2008-April 2015
                                                                                                                    • Figure 25: US median household income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2003-13
                                                                                                                    • Figure 26: Percent of total households, by number of people in household, 2013
                                                                                                                    • Figure 27: Median household income, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2013
                                                                                                                    • Figure 28: Length of the holiday shopping season, 2005-15
                                                                                                                    • Figure 29: US all grades all formulations retail gasoline prices (dollars per gallon), 2012-May 2015
                                                                                                                • Appendix – Consumer

                                                                                                                  • Correspondence analysis methodology
                                                                                                                    • Additional data
                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Items purchased during 2014 winter holiday season, April 2015
                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Likelihood of buying items for self during holidays, October 2014

                                                                                                                  Companies Covered

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                                                                                                                  Winter Holiday Shopping - US - August 2015

                                                                                                                  £3,174.67 (Excl.Tax)