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US Winter Holiday Shopping market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Winter Holiday Shopping market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry and how fast are its rates of growth? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Definition

For the purposes of this Report, “holiday shopping” refers to expected consumer expenditures on holiday-specific items such as gifts, decorations, seasonal candy and other food, greeting cards, and other expenditures.

Other, non-winter holidays will be covered in Mintel’s upcoming Holiday Shopping (non-Winter) – US, September 2017. This Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Winter Holiday Shopping – US, August 2016, 2015, 2014 and Holiday Shopping – US, July 2013, 2012, 2011, and June 2010.

This Report focuses on winter holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) as these represent the bulk of total holiday expenditures.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Alexis DeSalva, a leading analyst in the Retail & Apparel sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

There’s an optimistic outlook for the upcoming winter holiday season, with growth expected to continue and most consumers planning to spend more or make no changes to their winter holiday spending. Consumers are doing more holiday shopping online and that has changed other shopping preferences, including purchase timing and deal-seeking behavior. Retailers need to offer the best deals, both in terms of pricing and shipping, an ample gift selection, and provide consumers with efficient shopping experiences in stores and online to maintain their engagement. Alexis DeSalva
Retail & Apparel Analyst

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Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
      • Executive Summary

        • The issues
          • Deals influence consumers’ shopping decisions
            • Figure 1: Holiday shopping research and planning and preferences toward winter holiday shopping, June 2017
          • Retailers can’t rely on shoppers’ loyalty during the holidays
            • Figure 2: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, June 2017
          • The opportunities
            • Encouraging consumers to spend more for certain holidays
              • Figure 3: Changes in planned holiday spending, June 2017
            • Extending the holiday season
              • Figure 4: Attitudes and preferences toward winter holiday shopping, June 2017
            • What it means
            • The Market – What You Need to Know

              • A healthy market likely means a healthy holiday
                • Favorable factors lead to increased consumer confidence
                • Market Size

                  • Positive sales expected for 2017 holidays
                    • Figure 5: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at current prices, 2007-17
                    • Figure 6: Total US retail sales* in November and December as a share of total annual retail sales, 2007-17
                    • Figure 7: Anticipated winter holiday expenditures, in current dollars, 2011-16
                • Market Factors

                  • Economic factors paint an optimistic picture for holiday spending
                    • Figure 8: Consumer Sentiment Index, May 2016-May 2017
                  • Living situations may impact holiday celebrations
                    • An increase in multicultural population could lead to diversified holiday traditions
                      • Online shopping affects consumer expectation
                        • Figure 9: Personal and household device ownership, January 2017
                    • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                      • Amazon dominates the holidays
                        • Dollar stores overlooked
                          • Extending the holiday season
                          • What’s Working?

                            • Extending deals to maximize holiday shopping period
                              • Figure 10: Amazon email campaign, July 2017
                              • Figure 11: Express email campaign, January 2017
                              • Figure 12: Sephora email campaign, January 2017
                            • Amazon and mass merchandisers favored for holiday shopping
                              • Figure 13: Planned retailers to shop, June 2017
                          • What’s Struggling?

                            • Shipping increases could deter some shoppers
                              • Figure 14: Preferences toward holiday shopping, by gender and age, June 2017
                            • As other channels get competitive, dollar stores are at risk
                              • Figure 15: Select retailers planned to shop, June 2017
                          • What’s Next?

                            • Rethinking the traditional holiday shopping time frame
                              • Figure 16: Preferences toward winter holiday shopping, by select demographics, June 2017
                          • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                            • Exchanging gifts and attending or hosting events are top traditions
                              • Consumers plan to increase shopping at most retailers
                                • Shoppers are budgeting and researching holiday purchases
                                  • Finding the right gift outranks price for most consumers
                                  • Changes in Planned Holiday Spending

                                    • Most consumers plan to spend more or have no change in spending
                                      • Figure 17: Changes in planned winter holiday spending, by holiday, June 2017
                                      • Figure 18: Changes in planned winter holiday spending, by holiday, June 2017
                                    • Men plan to spend more on winter holidays
                                      • Figure 19: Changes in planned winter holiday spending, by gender and age, June 2017
                                    • Many consumers are celebrating New Year’s, but not spending
                                      • Figure 20: Changes in planned winter holiday spending, by age, June 2017
                                    • Urban, young consumers plan to increase Thanksgiving spending
                                      • Figure 21: Changes in planned winter holiday spending, by select demographics, June 2017
                                    • Hispanics more likely to increase spending
                                      • Figure 22: Changes in planned winter holiday spending, by Hispanic origin and generation, June 2017
                                  • Holiday Traditions

                                    • Gift exchange is top tradition
                                      • Figure 23: Holiday traditions, by gender and age, June 2017
                                    • Attending and hosting are equally important
                                      • Figure 24: Holiday traditions, by age and household income, June 2017
                                    • Preferences for other traditions varies
                                      • Figure 25: Holiday traditions – Select traditions, June 2017
                                    • Cultural differences influence traditions
                                      • Figure 26: Holiday traditions, by race and Hispanic origin, June 2017
                                    • Thoughts on traditions
                                    • 2016 Winter Holiday Purchases

                                      • Clothing/footwear and gift cards are top holiday purchases
                                        • Figure 27: Winter holiday 2016 purchases, June 2017
                                      • Younger women drive clothing/footwear purchases
                                        • Figure 28: Winter holiday 2016 purchases, by gender and age, June 2017
                                      • Age and income influence purchases
                                        • Figure 29: Winter holiday 2016 purchases, by age and household income, June 2017
                                      • Those who are hosting are driving food and beverage purchases
                                        • Figure 30: Winter 2016 holiday purchases, by select demographics, June 2017
                                      • Women, parents more likely to purchase decorations
                                        • Thoughts on holiday decorations
                                          • Parents are still buying toys
                                            • Figure 31: Winter 2016 holiday purchases, by parental status by age of children, June 2017
                                          • Hispanics are key consumers for other holiday purchases
                                          • Planned Retail Channels

                                            • Amazon and mass merchandisers are preferred for holiday shopping
                                              • Figure 32: Planned retailers to shop, June 2017
                                            • Preference for Amazon and mass merchandisers span age groups
                                              • Figure 33: Select retailers planned to shop, by age, June 2017
                                            • Women plan to visit department stores and clothing stores
                                              • Figure 34: Retailers planned to shop, by select demographics, June 2017
                                            • Parents prefer warehouse clubs at holidays
                                              • Figure 35: Planned retailers to shop, by parental status, June 2017
                                          • Holiday Shopping Research and Planning

                                            • Most consumers are budgeting and researching their holiday shopping
                                              • Figure 36: Holiday shopping research and planning, June 2017
                                            • Younger generations use tech to plan their shopping
                                              • Figure 37: Holiday shopping research and planning, by generation, June 2017
                                            • Parents plan to save during holiday shopping
                                              • Figure 38: Holiday shopping research and planning, by parental status, June 2017
                                            • Regardless of household income level, all holiday shoppers look for ways to save
                                              • Figure 39: Holiday shopping research and planning, by age and household income, June 2017
                                            • Approach to gift shopping
                                              • Figure 40: Holiday shopping research and planning, by age, June 2017
                                            • Thoughts on holiday shopping
                                            • Preferences toward Winter Holiday Shopping

                                              • Deals on pricing and shipping influence where to shop
                                                • Figure 41: Preferences for holiday shopping, June 2017
                                              • Younger shoppers most likely to shop on Cyber Monday and Black Friday
                                                • Figure 42: Preferences for holiday shopping, by age, June 2017
                                              • Women prefer to plan ahead
                                                • Figure 43: Preferences toward winter holiday shopping, by gender and age, June 2014
                                              • Hispanic consumers not as concerned with deals and shipping
                                                • In their own words
                                                • Attitudes toward Holiday Shopping

                                                  • The internet has changed consumers’ holiday shopping
                                                    • Figure 44: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, June 2017
                                                  • Finding the right gift is more important than price and convenience
                                                    • Figure 45: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, by household income, June 2017
                                                  • Holiday shopping equals a break from routine for some shoppers
                                                    • Figure 46: Attitudes toward holiday shopping, by gender and age, June 2017
                                                  • Hispanics are more traditional in their shopping
                                                  • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

                                                    • Data sources
                                                      • Sales data
                                                        • Consumer survey data
                                                          • Consumer qualitative research
                                                            • Direct marketing creative
                                                              • Abbreviations
                                                              • Appendix – Market

                                                                  • Figure 47: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2007-17
                                                                  • Figure 48: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-May 2017
                                                                  • Figure 49: Median household income, in inflation-adjusted dollars, 2005-15
                                                                  • Figure 50: Population by race and Hispanic origin, 2012-22
                                                                  • Figure 51: Number of households, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2006 and 2016
                                                                  • Figure 52: Median age at first marriage, by gender, 2006-16