Shoppers to Spend More on Winter Holidays This Year, Says NRF

SurveysOct 23, 2023

Shoppers to Spend More on Winter Holidays This Year, Says NRF

Discounts and promotions could persuade consumers to shop earlier this year, the survey found.

Stock image of holiday gifts in bags
Shoppers are expected to spend $875 on average celebrating winter holidays this year, up from $833 last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s latest consumer survey, conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Washington—Shoppers are expected to be in the holiday spirit this year in spite of the ongoing economic and geopolitical uncertainty. 

Consumers are expected to spend $875 on average celebrating the winter holidays this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s latest consumer survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. 

(The survey is a measure of overall spending on gifts, decorations, food, and other key seasonal items; NRF will release its annual holiday sales forecast focusing on core retail in November.)  

That’s $42 more than what they planned to spend last year and is in line with the average holiday budget over the last five years.

Of that budget, around $620 will be spent on gifts, with the other $225 going to decorations, candy, food, and other holiday items.

“The winter holidays are an important tradition to many American families, and shoppers are prioritizing their holiday purchases for the people most important to them,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. 

“Retailers have been preparing for months to ensure their inventories will meet demand, while at the same time helping consumers maximize their budgets with shopping events and discounts running throughout the extended holiday shopping season.”
Almost all U.S. adults surveyed (92 percent) plan to celebrate a holiday event like Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa this winter, which is in line with last year, said NRF.

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As in previous years, 43 percent of holiday shoppers are expected to start checking gifts off their list before November.

The NRF’s survey found the top reason respondents cited for shopping early was to “spread out their budgets” (60 percent), followed by avoiding the stress of last-minute shopping (46 percent), and avoiding crowds (45 percent).

Still, most shoppers (62 percent) don’t expect to finish holiday shopping until December.

“However, early sales may sway consumers to shop even earlier,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said.

“This year, seven in 10 holiday shoppers say they are considering taking advantage of October sales events to pick up holiday gifts, décor and other items on their list.”

A recent Shopify holiday survey showed similar results, with 41 percent of respondents planning to start holiday shopping this month or earlier. 

The Shopify survey showed that consumers, particularly in Gen Z, could be persuaded to shop sooner if retailers offered holiday deals and promotions.

Though respondents told NRF they plan to spend more this year, they are still budget-conscious, with 62 percent of respondents saying sales and promotions are even more important than last year.

More than one-third (36 percent) said they’re scaling back spending in other areas to cover the cost of holiday gifts.

Thirty percent of respondents said they’re buying gifts for fewer people this year while 27 percent said they’re buying less for themselves.

As for where they’re shopping, the NRF survey found 58 percent of consumers plan to shop online this year. 

Department stores (49 percent) took the No. 2 spot, followed by discount stores (48 percent), and grocery stores and supermarkets (44 percent).

Gift cards remain the most popular gift to receive, with 55 percent of holiday shoppers saying they would like one, followed by clothing or accessories (49 percent), books, video games or other media (28 percent), and personal care or beauty items (25 percent). 

Nearly one-quarter of shoppers (23 percent) plan to gift someone an experience this year, in line with last year and up 19 percent from 2021.

The survey, conducted in October, asked 8,103 adult consumers about their holiday shopping plans.

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