Description

This report provides comprehensive and current information and analysis of the winter holiday shopping market including winter holiday shopping market size, anticipated market forecast, relevant market segmentation, and industry trends for the winter holiday shopping market in the US.

Current market landscape

US retail sales for the winter holiday season are predicted to surpass $1 trillion in 2022, after hitting record levels in the prior two seasons. Heading into the winter holiday season, the economic outlook is uncertain, as inflation erodes consumer purchasing power and threatens to put a damper on discretionary spending. Similar to 2021, consumers will look to avoid supply chain issues and once again shop earlier this year. This will also prompt retailers to continue extending their promotional calendars, as the winter holiday shopping season stretches earlier and longer.

By now, most consumers have adjusted to life amid COVID-19 and are determined to have a greater sense of normalcy in their holiday celebrations. In the upcoming season, consumers will be ready to embrace the holiday traditions they’ve longed for during the pandemic, including shopping in person and attending family gatherings. In-store shopping levels will continue to rebound, but ecommerce will remain elevated as shopping becomes increasingly multichannel.

Market share and key industry trends in the winter holiday shopping season

  • Nearly all adults (93%) plan to participate in winter holiday shopping during the winter holiday season. Christmas is by far the most widely observed and shopped-for holiday, followed by Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. As many as 20% of Gen Z and Millennials also plan to shop for secondary holidays such as Friendsgiving, creating new opportunities for retailers and brands (see Holiday Shopping Participation).
  • Categories most impacted by the pandemic saw a rebound in 2021, as consumers deprioritized essentials and planned for a greater sense of normalcy and a return to more in-person activities. 67% of consumers shopped for clothing and footwear – the top category shopped, marking a ten-percentage-point increase over the year prior. Other categories seeing the largest increases compared to 2020 were beauty and personal care and electronics (see Holiday Purchases).
  • Consumers are shopping earlier than ever for the winter holidays. Nearly half (45%) plan to do most of their shopping before Thanksgiving. Big holiday shopping days continue to lose relevance with consumers: 39% of consumers say it is not critical to shop on Black Friday or Cyber Monday because they can get deals throughout the season, and 43% shop throughout the year to take advantage of deals (see Shopping Timeframe).

Future trends in the winter holiday shopping market

Value will take center stage this season, both in terms of convenience and money saved. Mass merchandisers and value-based outlets will have a strong showing, as rising prices will see more consumers shift into new outlets to get the lowest prices. Overall, the season will be a challenging one, but both consumers and retailers have proven their resiliency, and all will be determined to have a celebratory holiday season in spite of inflationary pressures.

Read on to discover more about the US winter holiday shopping consumer market, read our US Holidays and Traditions Market Report 2021, or take a look at our other Holidays and Travel research reports.

Quickly understand winter holiday shopping trends

  • The impact of COVID-19, inflation, supply chain constraints and other market factors on consumer behavior and winter holiday shopping.
  • How, where and when consumers plan to shop this winter holiday season.
  • Potential purchases for gifts and holiday celebrations.
  • How retailers can help consumers prepare for the holidays before and during the season.

Covered in this winter holiday shopping market report

Brands include: Forever 21, Nike, Gap, Gucci,Roblox, Decentraland, Disney, Crate & Barrel, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s, Snapchat, Under Armour, Hollister, Google, Madewell, Buzzfeed, Fenty Beauty, Ogilvy, Clear Channel, Apple, Mastercard, Boy Smells, Bloomingdale’s, Goodbuy Gear, ThredUp, Poshmark, Victoria’s Secret, Sephora, Affirm, Rakuten, Honey, CNet, Ralph Lauren, Tradlands, American Eagle, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Pinterest.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

This report, written by Brittany Steiger, a leading analyst in the Retail and eCommerce sector, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis of winter holiday shopping market research to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Value-seeking behaviors will predominate in the 2022 winter holiday season, as inflation leads consumers to prioritize lower prices and other forms of value. The season will continue to stretch earlier and longer as consumers embrace new habits and a planned approach to their shopping. In spite of challenges, consumers are optimistic about the holidays, and a robust return to holiday gatherings will add levity to the season.
Brittany Steiger, Senior Analyst - Retail and eCommerce
Brittany Steiger
Senior Analyst, Retail & eCommerce

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Total US sales* in November and December, at current prices, 2012–22
      • Figure 2: Winter holiday shopping outlook, 2022-27
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Inflation the single biggest challenge to the winter holiday shopping season
    • Reinvent the winter holiday season and promotional calendar
    • Embrace partnerships with BNPL providers and shopping portals
    • Plan for an expanded physical and digital presence as multichannel shopping becomes the norm
    • Leverage social commerce to create interactive online shopping experiences
    • Key consumer insights
  3. Market Perspective

    • In spite of challenges, 2021 delivered another year of record sales
    • What happened in 2021
    • What will happen in 2022
  4. Market Size and Forecast

    • Another year of record growth in 2021; modest growth expected for 2022 as sales stabilize amid widespread inflation
      • Figure 3: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at current prices, 2012–22
      • Figure 4: Intent to spend more, 2021 behavior versus 2022 expectation, by household income, 2022
    • Holiday sales remain a critical component to a retailer’s total year
      • Figure 5: Total US retail sales* in November and December as a share of total annual retail sales, 2012–22
    • Average expenditures held flat in 2021; increases expected in 2022 as prices rise
      • Figure 6: Anticipated winter holiday expenditures, in current dollars, 2016-21
  5. Market Factors

    • Inflation a major threat to consumer purchasing power
      • Figure 7: 12-month percentage change, Consumer Price Index for all items, 2021–22
      • Figure 8: Disposable personal income change from previous period, 2007–22
      • Figure 9: Financial health, by household income, 2022
    • Supply chain issues persist, challenging retailers and frustrating consumers
    • Labor shortages show some signs of improvement
      • Figure 10: Unemployment and underemployment, 2007–22
    • COVID-19 is still here, but consumers are eager to move on
      • Figure 11: Worry levels regarding COVID-19 exposure and lifestyle disruption, 2020-22
    • Evolving technology creates new connection points at retail
      • Figure 12: Forever 21 debuts first virtual store in the metaverse
  6. Competitive Strategies and Market Opportunities

    • Competitive strategies
    • The deals started early and kept going throughout the season
      • Figure 13: Retailers began promoting holiday promotions in the fall
    • Virtual events and livestream shopping supplemented the online shopping experience
      • Figure 14: Walmart and Macy’s leverage virtual winter holiday events
      • Figure 15: Target Live: Last Minute Holiday Shopping with The Onyx Family
    • Video advertising took a cinematic approach
      • Figure 16: “Black-Owned Friday,” a shoppable film by Google
      • Figure 17: Zara presents “O Night Divine,” a short film by Luca Guadagnino
    • Retailers amplified social causes
      • Figure 18: Madewell’s 2021 “Do Well Report”
    • Market opportunities
    • Reimagine the holiday promotional calendar
    • BNPL and shopping portals are ripe for expanded partnership opportunities
      • Figure 19: Apple announces “Apple Pay Later” service; Klarna debuts virtual shopping tool
    • Circular shopping options add value in a stretched economy
    • Consider the return of in-person experiences
      • Figure 20: Amazon’s smart window display, “Alexa in a Pear Tree”
  7. The Winter Holiday Consumer – Fast Facts

  8. Holiday Shopping Participation

    • Holiday optimism grows; consumers expect to celebrate more in 2022
    • Nearly all adults plan to participate in winter holiday shopping
      • Figure 21: Winter holiday shopping participation, 2020–22
    • Hispanic families enjoy their own Thanksgiving traditions
      • Figure 22: Thanksgiving shopping participation, 2021 versus 2022, by race and Hispanic origin, 2022
      • Figure 23: Northgate Market celebrates Hispanic culture at Thanksgiving
    • Younger consumers celebrate friend-focused holidays
      • Figure 24: Intent to shop for select winter holidays, by age, 2022
    • New Year’s Eve skews younger
    • Friendsgiving gaining ground as a non-official holiday
    • Singles’ Day is an untapped opportunity in the US
      • Figure 25: Walmart + Buzzfeed Friendsgiving livestream; Fenty Beauty Singles Day promotion
    • LGBTQ+ consumers embrace non-traditional holidays
      • Figure 26: Intent to shop for select winter holidays, by sexual orientation, 2022
      • Figure 27: Leveraging media to connect with LGBTQ+ audiences
  9. Holiday Purchases

    • Most categories rebounded toward prepandemic levels in 2021
      • Figure 28: Items purchased during the winter holidays, 2018–21
    • Parents are primary purchasers; moms still take the lead
      • Figure 29: Items purchased during the winter holidays, by gender and parental status, 2022
    • Gift cards have the opportunity for universal appeal
      • Figure 30: Gift card purchases by household income; age and household income, 2022
      • Figure 31: Apple gift card stickers
  10. How and Where Consumers Plan to Shop

    • In-store continues to rebound, but multichannel becomes the norm
      • Figure 32: Likely shopping method, 2022
    • Consumers across demographics retain online and multichannel shopping habits; Gen Z leads the way back into stores
      • Figure 33: Likely shopping method, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 34: Boy Smells holiday playlist on Spotify
      • Figure 35: Actual and planned in-store shopping behaviors, by generation, 2022
    • One-stop shops continue to win out; value retailers expected to grow share of wallet in 2022
      • Figure 36: Likely stores to be shopped, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 37: Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s roll out new concepts
    • Circular shopping gains appeal with younger consumers and value-conscious shoppers
      • Figure 38: Likely stores to be shopped – thrift/consignment, by age and household income, 2022
      • Figure 39: GoodBuy Gear “Thrift the Gift” Holiday gift guide
    • In their own words: consumers share their go-to holiday retailers
  11. Shopping Timeframe

    • Nearly half of adults plan to do their shopping before Thanksgiving
      • Figure 40: Anticipated shopping timeframe, 2022
      • Figure 41: Anticipated shopping timeframe, by gender and age, 2022
    • Emphasis on peak week continues to diminish
      • Figure 42: Behaviors and attitudes related to shopping timeframe, by gender and age, 2022
  12. Shopping Behaviors

    • Conscious consumerism, in-store shopping and gatherings expected to be on the rise in 2022
      • Figure 43: Shopping behaviors, 2022
    • Consumer values drive “share of heart”
      • Figure 44: Expected shopping behaviors, conscious consumerism, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 45: Victoria’s Secret women-led VS&Co-Lab; Amazon amplifies small sellers
      • Figure 46: Sephora recognizes employee contributions
    • Parents take advantage of flexible shopping options
      • Figure 47: Expected shopping behaviors – convenience, by gender and parental status, 2022
      • Figure 48: Affirm highlights stress-free financing for the holidays
  13. Attitudes toward Winter Holiday Shopping

    • Concerns about rising prices will dominate this year; convenience and experience still matter
      • Figure 49: Attitudes toward winter holiday shopping, 2022
    • Consumers will go out of their way to find the best deals
      • Figure 50: Attitudes toward winter holiday shopping – deal-seeking focus, by financial health, 2022
      • Figure 51: Rakuten offers cash back on holiday purchases
    • Convenience is critical for parents – especially dads
      • Figure 52: Attitudes toward winter holiday shopping – convenience, by gender and parental status, 2022
      • Figure 53: CNET Holiday Gift Guide
    • Millennials and Gen Z value winter holiday experiences
      • Figure 54: Ralph Lauren Holiday experiential concepts, “The Winter Escape” on Roblox; drone light show
      • Figure 55: Attitudes toward winter holiday shopping – experiential, by generation, 2022
    • Eco-conscious consumerism a growing trend as climate anxiety grows
      • Figure 56: Attitudes toward winter holiday shopping – Environmentally friendly options, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 57: Walmart, Tradlands highlight sustainability initiatives
  14. Winter Holiday Shopping Influences

    • Personal recommendations, sales events and promotions top the list
      • Figure 58: Winter holiday shopping influences, 2022
    • Younger consumers significantly driven by media, older consumers favor more traditional influences
      • Figure 59: Winter holiday shopping influences, NET, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 60: Winter holiday shopping influences, by generation, 2022
    • Digital experiences capture the attention of Gen Z and Millennials
    • Social commerce enables discovery and seamlessness
      • Figure 61: Winter holiday shopping influences – Media, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 62: American Eagle leans into social and digital commerce
    • Engagement with TV and streaming ads skews younger, male and multicultural
      • Figure 63: Winter holiday shopping influences, tv/streaming ads, by key demographics, 2022
      • Figure 64: Rocket Mortgage gets creative with QR codes in Super Bowl ad
    • Social media platforms used varies widely across age groups
      • Figure 65: Social media channels used for winter holiday shopping, by generation, 2022
      • Figure 66: Social media platform used most often, by generation, 2022
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Consumer survey data
    • Consumer qualitative research
    • Marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  16. Appendix – The Market

      • Figure 67: Total US retail sales* in November and December, at inflation-adjusted prices, 2012-22
  17. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 68: Anticipated shopping timeframe, 2019-22
      • Figure 69: Social media channels used for winter holiday shopping, 2022

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