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US Winter Holiday Shopping: Incl Impact of COVID-19 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: Incl Impact of COVID-19 - US 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? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

US retail sales in November and December are predicted to reach $807 billion in 2020, up 1.5% over the same period in 2019. This is much lower than the growth in 2019 (+4%) and the 10-year average of +3.3%, driven down as a result of the effects of COVID-19 and subsequent recession. Macroeconomic factors at the time of writing (July 2020) do not bode well for the retail industry, economy at large, or the winter holiday shopping season. However, although early planners have already begun preparations, there are still a few months before holiday shopping begins in earnest.

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Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Diana Smith, 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.

A recession and the continuing threat of COVID-19 will have a major impact on how people shop for the winter holidays this year. Many consumers will scale back spending to focus only or mostly on the essentials. They will also choose where and how to shop based on how concerned they are about the virus, and how they feel about their personal finances. They will seek retailers whose cleanliness policies they trust and who provide the best value. But above all, consumers are yearning to celebrate the comfort of the holidays, and retailers can play a key role in making them as special and meaningful as possible Diana Smith
Associate Director - Retail & Apparel


What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Key issues covered in this Report
        • Definition
        • Executive Summary

            • Market overview
              • Figure 1: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at current prices, 2010-20
            • Top takeaways
              • Earlier shopping…again
                • THE year of ecommerce
                  • Type of gifts could change
                    • Impact of COVID-19 on retail and winter holiday shopping
                      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on retail and winter holiday shopping, June 2020
                    • Key opportunities
                      • Connecting with consumers through shared values
                        • Figure 3: Retailer drivers, May 2020
                      • Helping shoppers get organized and maximize productivity
                        • Figure 4: Types of desired suggestions from retailers, May 2020
                      • Spreading the joy of the season
                        • What it means/what’s next
                        • Impact of COVID-19 on Winter Holiday Shopping

                          • Overview
                            • Figure 5: Short-, medium- and longer-term impact of COVID-19 on retail and winter holiday shopping, June 2020
                          • Opportunities and Threats
                            • Connect with consumers shopping earlier this year
                              • Provide value in more ways than one
                                • Financial woes threaten retailers’ future; lead to rampant discounting/inventory challenges
                                  • Consumers will seek shared experiences
                                    • Focus on improving omnichannel operations
                                      • Impact of COVID-19 on retail and winter holiday shopping
                                        • Figure 6: Total US retail sales, at current prices, 2015-25
                                      • How the COVID-19 crisis will affect winter holiday shoppers
                                        • Consumers turn inward to support local businesses
                                          • Figure 7: Attitudes toward shopping local, by generation, May 2020
                                          • Figure 8: Kraft Canada supports small businesses
                                        • Consumers are shopping more with their values
                                          • Figure 9: Attitudes related to socially conscious shopping, June 2020
                                        • How a COVID-19 recession will reshape the retail industry and impact winter holiday shopping
                                          • Consumers rein in unnecessary spending
                                            • Figure 10: Unemployment and underemployment, January 2007-June 2020
                                            • Figure 11: Financial health, by household income, June 25-July 7, 2020
                                          • COVID-19: US context
                                          • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                            • Winter holiday sales grew in 2019, but growth will be stifled in 2020
                                              • eCommerce was the big winner, and will be again
                                                • Macroeconomic factors do not bode well for upcoming season
                                                  • Advertising messages addressed the financial realities during the last recession; expect more of the same this year
                                                  • Market Size

                                                    • Holiday season expected to surpass $800 billion for a slight increase over 2019
                                                      • Figure 12: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at current prices, 2010-20
                                                      • Figure 13: Total US retail sales* in November and December as a share of total annual retail sales, 2010-20
                                                  • Market Perspective

                                                    • Strong performance for 2019 holiday season; ecommerce the big winner
                                                      • Looking back at the last recession can yield insight as to what to expect in 2020
                                                        • Consumers spent less
                                                          • Figure 14: Total “winter holiday” retail sales, 2006-11
                                                          • Figure 15: Anticipated holiday expenditures*, combined average of gifts and other holiday items, 2006-2011
                                                          • Figure 16: Factors that could lead to changing retail choices for holiday shopping, March 2009
                                                        • Key retailers spent more
                                                        • Market Factors

                                                          • Majority of consumers remain positive about finances, but still likely to rein in spending
                                                            • Figure 17: Financial health, by household income, June 25-July 7, 2020
                                                            • Figure 18: Financial health personally, of employer and of country in next three months, by household income, June 25-July 7, 2020
                                                            • Figure 19: Personal financial health in next three months, by household income, June 25-July 7, 2020
                                                          • Economic factors dim the holiday lights
                                                            • The country is in a recession
                                                              • COVID-19 has had a major impact on…everything
                                                                • Figure 20: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-June 2020
                                                                • Figure 21: Consumer confidence and unemployment, year-to-date 2020
                                                                • Figure 22: GDP change from previous period, Q1 2007-Q1 2020
                                                                • Figure 23: Disposable Personal Income change from previous period, January 2007-April 2020
                                                                • Figure 24: Consumer Price Index change from previous period, January 2007-April 2020
                                                                • Figure 25: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, all grades all formulations, January 2007-June 2020
                                                              • Fewer households with children influences spending for winter holidays
                                                                • Figure 26: Households with related children, by race and Hispanic origin of householder, 2018
                                                            • Key Players – What You Need to Know

                                                              • Authenticity is key when it comes to competing during the holidays
                                                                • Department store sector and select specialty retailers fell behind in 2019
                                                                  • Flexibility and convenience on shoppers’ terms will shape upcoming season
                                                                  • Who Stood Out in 2019?

                                                                    • Overview of leading brands’ strategies
                                                                      • Walmart
                                                                        • Figure 27: Walmart Black Friday Facebook post
                                                                        • Figure 28: Walmart Grocery Facebook post
                                                                      • Target
                                                                        • Figure 29: Target free shipping ad
                                                                        • Figure 30: Target Cyber Monday ad
                                                                        • Figure 31: Target holiday entertaining Facebook post
                                                                      • Amazon
                                                                        • Figure 32: Amazon employee welfare video
                                                                      • Nordstrom
                                                                        • Figure 33: Nordstrom Pop-In@Nordstrom Peanuts-themed shop
                                                                      • Lululemon
                                                                        • Figure 34: Lululemon holiday Facebook post
                                                                      • Leading with conviction
                                                                        • REI
                                                                          • Figure 35: REI Black Friday Facebook video post
                                                                          • Figure 36: Everlane Black Friday Facebook post
                                                                      • Who Struggled in 2019?

                                                                        • Department stores struggled to make ends meet
                                                                          • Kohl’s
                                                                            • Macy’s
                                                                              • Figure 37: Macy’s Black Friday Facebook post
                                                                            • Gap
                                                                              • Figure 38: Gap Black Friday Facebook post
                                                                          • What to Watch in 2020

                                                                            • Buy now, pay later payment models to emerge
                                                                              • Figure 39: Importance of flexible payment options, by age and income, April 2020
                                                                            • Figure 40: Affirm & Walmart partnership, August 2019
                                                                              • Figure 40: Affirm & Walmart partnership, August 2019
                                                                            • The year of curbside pickup
                                                                              • Figure 41: Curbside pickup usage in light of COVID-19, by generation, June 25-July 7, 2020
                                                                            • While familiar items make holiday wish lists, finances may drive actual purchases
                                                                              • Deals for everyone
                                                                                • Figure 42: Types of preferred promotions, December 2019
                                                                              • Refining digital strategies
                                                                                • Figure 43: Information sources – Part one, by generation, December 2019
                                                                                • Figure 44: Information sources – Part two, by generation, December 2019
                                                                              • Owning the smaller holidays
                                                                                • Figure 45: Sabra Facebook post for Friendsgiving
                                                                                • Figure 46: Grey Goose Facebook post for Friendsgiving
                                                                            • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                              • Shoppers will seek out both practical and experiential gifts
                                                                                • Online and mobile sales will reach new heights in 2020
                                                                                  • It really is all about the deal this year
                                                                                    • Consumers are expected to shop earlier, but time will tell if they actually do
                                                                                      • Shoppers turn to digital tools to get organized
                                                                                        • Consumers actively look to retailers to help them get their shopping done
                                                                                        • Purchase Expectations

                                                                                          • First, a look back at 2019
                                                                                            • Food, clothing and gift cards most popular items in 2019
                                                                                                • Figure 47: Holiday purchases, May 2020
                                                                                              • Moms play a bigger role in the shopping
                                                                                                • Figure 48: Holiday purchases, by parental status by gender, May 2020
                                                                                              • What to expect
                                                                                                • Scaling back across the board; focus on essential goods
                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Spending priorities in light of COVID-19, June 25, 2020-July 7, 2020
                                                                                                  • Average expenditures during 2019 holidays were expected to reach new heights; three out of four dollars spent on gifts
                                                                                                    • Figure 50: Anticipated average expenditures for winter holidays, in current dollars, 2014-19
                                                                                                  • Self-gifting deprioritized to afford gifts for others
                                                                                                    • Figure 51: Anticipated self-gifting behavior, by gender and age, May 2020
                                                                                                  • Type of gifts could change
                                                                                                    • Figure 52: Attitudes toward gifting, by gender and age, May 2020
                                                                                                • How and Where Consumers Plan to Shop

                                                                                                  • Digital will play its biggest role yet
                                                                                                    • Figure 53: Preferred shopping method, May 2020
                                                                                                    • Figure 54: Preferred shopping method, by generation, May 2020
                                                                                                  • Value-oriented stores stand to benefit
                                                                                                      • Figure 55: Planned store types to shop in 2020, May 2020
                                                                                                      • Figure 56: Walmart and ThredUp announcement on Twitter
                                                                                                      • Figure 57: Value-oriented planned store types to shop in 2020, by household income and race and Hispanic origin, May 2020
                                                                                                    • Values play a bigger role in determining where to shop
                                                                                                        • Figure 58: Retailer drivers, May 2020
                                                                                                        • Figure 59: Retailer drivers, by generation, May 2020
                                                                                                        • Figure 60: Walmart Facebook post about employee welfare
                                                                                                    • Shopping Timeframe

                                                                                                      • Majority conduct brunt of shopping by Cyber Monday
                                                                                                        • Figure 61: Shopping timeframe, May 2020
                                                                                                      • Examining 2019 shopping patterns can help retailers plan for 2020
                                                                                                        • More than four in 10 shop year-round, reducing reliance on Black Friday and Cyber Monday
                                                                                                          • Figure 62: Shopping timeframe, by gender, May 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 63: Shopping attitudes, by gender and age, May 2020
                                                                                                        • COVID-19 impact could see consumers shopping earlier
                                                                                                          • Figure 64: Intent to shop earlier this year, by household income, May 2020
                                                                                                      • Shopping Behaviors

                                                                                                        • Shopping local movement on the rise
                                                                                                          • Figure 65: Behaviors related to where to shop, May 2020
                                                                                                        • Experience-based gifts still make many shoppers’ lists
                                                                                                          • Figure 66: Behaviors related to what to purchase, May 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 67: Interest in buying experience-based gifts, by age, May 2020
                                                                                                        • Consumers turn to digital tools and resources to get organized; social media plays key role
                                                                                                          • Figure 68: Behaviors related to planning and organizing, May 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 69: Use of social media for gift inspiration, by age, May 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 70: Example of shoppable Target products on Instagram
                                                                                                        • Less interest in paying premiums for in-demand items or taking extra steps to get incentives
                                                                                                          • Figure 71: Behaviors related to financial considerations, May 2020
                                                                                                          • Figure 72: Behaviors related to financial considerations, by household income, May 2020
                                                                                                      • Attitudes Toward Holiday Shopping

                                                                                                        • Bring on the creativity
                                                                                                          • Figure 73: Attitudes regarding creativity, May 2020
                                                                                                        • People look forward to relishing in the spirit of the holidays
                                                                                                          • Figure 74: Attitudes toward winter holiday shopping, May 2020
                                                                                                        • Pressed for time; short on cash
                                                                                                          • Figure 75: Attitudes related to time versus money spent on winter holiday shopping, by gender and household income, May 2020
                                                                                                      • What Holiday Shoppers Want from Retailers

                                                                                                        • Consumers seek assistance, shortcuts and flexibility
                                                                                                          • Figure 76: Zappos Customer Service Anything line
                                                                                                          • Figure 77: Desired offerings at retail, May 2020
                                                                                                        • Women not afraid to ask for help
                                                                                                          • Figure 78: Desired retailer assistance, by gender and age, May 2020
                                                                                                        • High interest in flexible payment options
                                                                                                          • Figure 79: Interest in flexible payment options, by household income, May 2020
                                                                                                      • Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

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

                                                                                                                      • Figure 80: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2010-20

                                                                                                                  About the report

                                                                                                                  This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                  • The Consumer

                                                                                                                    What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                  • The Competitors

                                                                                                                    Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                  • The Market

                                                                                                                    Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                  • The Innovations

                                                                                                                    New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                  • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                    Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                  • The Trends

                                                                                                                    What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                  Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.