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US Holiday Shopping market report

Most consumers celebrate non-winter holidays, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to spending for every occasion. Holiday traditions, lifestyles and other factors could influence whether or not consumers actively celebrate, and ultimately spend for, various holidays. Consumers are mostly consistent in the types of holidays they prioritize spending on and their purchases mirror those holidays’ traditions. Some consumers might need motivation to spend, so finding ways to encourage more shopping – either by creating new holidays to participate in or offering differentiated in-store experiences, will be crucial to engaging more shoppers.

This report looks at the following areas:

  • Mother’s Day commands the most expenditures
  • Consumers celebrate, but don’t spend for certain holidays
  • Price is the priority for many shoppers

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • Overview
          • The issues
            • Timing is everything
              • Figure 1: Attitudes toward holiday shopping and holiday shopping behavior, April 2018
            • Deal-seeking behavior dominates expectations
              • Figure 2: Attitudes toward holiday shopping and holiday research and planning, April 2018
            • The opportunities
              • Creating new sales events can give consumers reasons to shop outside the traditional timeframe
                • Figure 3: Holiday shopping behavior, by select demographics, April 2018
              • Filling the gap of debunked retailers
                • Figure 4: Holiday purchases – Toys, by select demographics, April 2018
              • What it means
              • The Market – What You Need to Know

                • November and December sales expected to deliver another positive holiday
                  • Consumers are feeling confident, leading to more spending
                  • Market Size

                    • 2018 is projecting to be a happy holiday sales season
                      • Figure 5: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at current prices, 2008-18
                      • Figure 6: Total US retail sales* in November and December as a share of total annual retail sales, 2008-18
                  • Market Factors

                    • Rising confidence could result in more spending
                      • Figure 7: Consumer Sentiment Index, January 2007-April 2018
                    • The cost of the holidays can limit spending
                      • Figure 8: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, January 2007-March 2018
                    • Presence of children could influence spending
                      • Figure 9: Households with related children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2017
                  • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                    • Consumers are embracing opportunities to get ahead
                      • Another specialty retailer bites the dust
                        • Give shoppers other reasons to shop
                        • What’s Working?

                          • Consumers are comfortable with the creep
                            • Pre-Thanksgiving promotions
                              • Figure 10: Amazon Black Friday email, November 22 2017
                              • Figure 11: Walmart Black Friday deals, November 22, 2017
                              • Figure 12: Target Black Friday email campaign, November 22, 2017
                              • Figure 13: Email read rates, Black Friday (11/22-11/24) versus Cyber Monday (11/25-11/27), November 2017
                            • Off-season sales events continue to be popular
                              • Figure 14: Nordstrom e-mail campaign, July 2017
                              • Figure 15: Amazon Prime Day email, July 11, 2017
                              • Figure 16: Amazon Prime Day emails (7/11/17-7/12/17) versus holiday emails (11/24/17-12/23/17), July and November 2017
                          • What’s Struggling?

                            • Early exposure and oversaturation could result in less-impactful communication during the peak of the season
                              • Figure 17: Various retailers holiday emails read rates, pre-and-post-Thanksgiving, November through December 2017
                            • The demise of toy stores
                            • What’s Next?

                              • Rethinking traditional timelines
                                • Figure 18: JCPenney e-mail campaign, May 2018
                                • Figure 19: Wayfair e-mail campaign, April 2018
                              • Embracing the spirit of giving
                                • Figure 20: Amazon e-mail, November 2017
                                • Figure 21: Macy’s e-mail, December 2017
                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                              • Celebrants mostly plan to spend more or the same as last year
                                • Consumers are shopping around, and online is becoming a more popular holiday destination
                                  • Top holiday purchases indicate consumers prioritize others over themselves
                                    • Shoppers seek and even expect value
                                    • Planned Spending

                                      • Most consumers plan to spend more or the same on winter holidays
                                        • Figure 22: Planned spending, any winter holiday, April 2018
                                      • Christmas celebration results in spending for most
                                        • Figure 23: Planned spending – Christmas, by select demographics, April 2018
                                      • Celebrating, but not spending for New Year’s
                                        • Figure 24: Planned spending – New Year’s, by gender and age, April 2018
                                    • Retailers Shopped

                                      • Consumers expect to do more holiday shopping online
                                        • Figure 25: Retailers shopped, Any visitation, April 2018
                                      • Amazon takes over the reign as the preferred holiday retailer
                                        • Figure 26: Retailers shopped, by generation, April 2018
                                      • Women fulfilling a variety of holiday needs at a variety of retailers
                                        • Figure 27: Retailers shopped – Any visitation, by gender, April 2018
                                      • Multicultural consumers shopping value-oriented retailers for holiday needs
                                        • Figure 28: Retailers shopped – Any visitation, by race and Hispanic origin, April 2018
                                    • Holiday Purchases

                                      • Clothing, gift cards and toys top gifts in 2017
                                        • Figure 29: Items purchased, April 2018
                                      • Impersonal or not, gift cards are a top purchase
                                        • Figure 30: Items purchased, by select demographics, April 2018
                                      • Parents are buying toys, but what about grandparents?
                                        • Figure 31: Items purchased, by age and gender, April 2018
                                      • Black consumers are purchasing fewer items
                                        • Figure 32: Items purchased, by race and Hispanic origin, April 2018
                                    • Holiday Research and Planning

                                      • Holiday shoppers are savvy
                                        • Figure 33: Holiday research and planning, April 2018
                                      • Millennials are doing more cross-channel shopping
                                        • Figure 34: Holiday research and planning, by generation, April 2018
                                      • Some shoppers are turning to social media for inspiration
                                        • Figure 35: Holiday research and planning, by select demographics, April 2018
                                    • Holiday Shopping Behavior

                                      • Shoppers are taking advantage of sales events, both in and out of the holiday season
                                        • Figure 36: Holiday shopping behavior, April 2018
                                      • Younger generations prove holiday sales events are not a thing of the past
                                        • Figure 37: Holiday shopping behavior, by generation, April 2018
                                      • Men stick to their budget, while women make more unexpected purchases
                                        • Figure 38: Holiday shopping behavior, by gender, April 2018
                                      • Young adults treat themselves during the holidays
                                        • Figure 39: Holiday shopping behavior, by age, April 2018
                                      • Multicultural shoppers practice both strategy and self-care
                                        • Figure 40: Holiday shopping behavior, by race and Hispanic origin, April 2018
                                    • Attitudes toward Holiday Shopping

                                      • Value seeking attitudes remain during the holidays
                                        • Figure 41: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, April 2018
                                      • Women approach holiday shopping with a thrifty attitude
                                        • Figure 42: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, by gender and age, April 2018
                                      • Young shoppers are comfortable with the creep
                                        • Figure 43: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, by generation, April 2018
                                      • Black shoppers prefer to shop in-store, while Hispanic shoppers seek convenience
                                        • Figure 44: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, by race and Hispanic origin, April 2018
                                    • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                      • Data sources
                                        • Sales data
                                          • Consumer survey data
                                            • Direct marketing creative
                                              • Abbreviations and terms
                                                • Abbreviations
                                                • Appendix – The Market

                                                    • Figure 45: Households, by presence of own children, 2007-17
                                                • Appendix – The Consumer

                                                    • Figure 46: Planned spending, April 2018
                                                    • Figure 47: Retailers Shopped, in-store versus online, April 2018
                                                    • Figure 48: Reasons for shopping Amazon, April 2018