NRFProsper-Thanksgiving-Weekend-Shopping-Intentions-Nov2014The holiday season – traditionally referred to as the November-December period – is here, and Thanksgiving weekend, replete with Black Friday and Cyber Monday, beckons. That means, among other things, that there’s an abundance of holiday data on offer. This article (which is being updated periodically during the holiday period) highlights key points from holiday-related research for what appears to be a fairly bright season in terms of spending.

Note that the data points highlighted below represent only some of what the available research covers. For further reading, follow the included links to the research.

Data published before this update has been italicized.

Timing and Gifts

  • Some 61.1% of American adults will or may shop on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday), Friday, Saturday or Sunday, a similar expectation to last year, per the NRF.
  • Adobe is projecting Black Friday to be the fastest growing online sales day of the year [pdf], with 28% year-over-year growth. Thanksgiving Day will see record sales of its own, up 27% year-over-year, while Cyber Monday will be the biggest online sales day, growing by 15% year-over-year. Adobe also expects Thanksgiving to be the most influential day for mobile, which will account for 31% of online sales. Of note, Adobe’s analysis also projects that online prices will be lowest on Thanksgiving Day, with an average discount of 24%.
  • IBM predicts that online sales during the 5-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday will increase by 15% year-over-year. Mobile will account for 48% of traffic over that 5-day period, a 23% year-over-year increase, and mobile will reach 28% of all Thanksgiving online sales. While smartphones will top tablets in traffic share during the 5-day period, tablets will account for twice as many purchases as smartphones.
  • A BDO USA survey of 100 retail CMOs indicates that 34% will already have run most of their holiday season promotions by the time Thanksgiving rolls around, flattening expected sales increases for Black Friday (+2.4%) and Cyber Monday (+3.9%).
  • Close to half of all adults plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day, although Black Friday is the most popular shopping day, with 53% planning to shop then, according to Ipsos.
  • Even so, half of Americans are opposed to stores opening all day on Thanksgiving Day, feeling that it detracts from the traditional celebration. But, LoyaltyOne’s research also finds that one-third think it’s a great idea that gives them more time for holiday shopping. The rest are unsure.
  • The top shopping destinations on Black Friday will be department stores (56%), discount stores/mass merchandisers (55%) and electronics stores (49%), details Nielsen in its survey results.
  • A survey from the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) finds that 103.3 million Americans will shop online between Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, an increase of 6.1 million from last year. The survey also reveals that Black Friday will be the most popular online shopping day, ahead of Cyber Monday. The top tech gifts consumers plan to purchase over the weekend are: tablets; TVs; laptops and notebook computers; smartphones; and video game consoles.
  • While the largest share of shoppers surveyed by Thinknear plan to do most of their shopping in early December, 3 in 10 plan to do most of it during the Black Friday weekend.
  • Bankrate throws a spanner in the works, wondering if Black Friday is dead? That’s based on survey results finding that only 28% of Americans plan to shop in a store on Black Friday.
  • Of the more than 1,000 consumers polled by Toluna QuickSurveys, 54% reported having shopped in-store on Black Friday in the past, with 76% of those respondents planning to do so again. Similarly, 56% have shopped online on Cyber Monday, with 77% planning to go at it again this year.
  • Shoppers believe that Cyber Monday deals are second only to Black Friday deals, per a survey from
  • Email volume is going to spike significantly on Cyber Monday, per an analysis of 118 billion emails sent through MailChimp in the last 3 years.
  • Only one-quarter of consumers surveyed by Brand Keys were going to wait until Black Friday to start their holiday shopping. The survey also reveals that 95% of respondents will buy a gift card for someone, making this the most popular gift, ahead of clothing and accessories (78%) and electronics (51%). Retail CMOs surveyed by BDO USA, though, are less optimistic about growth in gift card sales than they were last year. For its part, the NRF notes that gift card purchasers expect to spend $31.7 billion on them [pdf] this holiday season, up from $29.8 billion last year. That’s an average of $47.87 per card this year.
  • Roughly 4 in 10 respondents will begin their shopping before Halloween, finds the NRF, while about 1 in 6 will wait until the first couple of weeks of December.
  • About 3 in 10 consumers said they will spend the majority of their holiday budgets during the Black Friday weekend [pdf], according to the CFI Group survey.
  • Slightly more than one-third of consumers will have begun shopping by Thanksgiving, relatively flat from last year, finds the NPD Group, while 18% plan to start shopping on Thanksgiving weekend.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) of consumers surveyed by PunchTab won’t begin shopping until November, with Cyber Monday (62%) and Black Friday (57%) the biggest shopping days.
  • More related data: a Google and Ipsos study indicates that a majority of consumers will start their research before Thanksgiving, with about one-quarter having started before Halloween.
  • Some 61% of consumers plan to shop in a physical store on Thanksgiving or Black Friday, reports Accenture, and almost half of respondents believe that the best deals of the season are on Thanksgiving, Black Friday or Cyber Monday.
  • Christmas-themed emails enjoy better open rates when they are sent weeks or even months prior to the target holiday, according to a study from Yesmail Interactive. Experian Marketing Services also has data on the best times to send email during peak days surrounding Thanksgiving.
  • Gift cards (62%), clothing (52.5%), books, CDs, DVDs, or video games (43.1%) and electronics (34.6%) are the top items on the wish list for those celebrating this holiday, per the NRF.
  • The NPD Group finds that clothing (44%) and toys (36%) top the list of categories consumers plan to buy this season, with books (18%) and food or beverages (18%) next on the list.
  • For its part, Accenture’s survey indicates that gift cards (57%), apparel (56%) and toys (42%) top the holiday gift lists.
  • Deloitte gets in on the act, finding that clothing (45%) and gift cards or gift certificates (43%) are the top gifts consumers plan on buying, followed by books (31%) and games, toys, dolls, etc. (29%).
  • The tech products highest on consumers’ wish lists are tablets, notebook/laptop computers, TVs, smartphones and video game consoles, reports the CEA, which also notes that total spending on tech this holiday period will increase by 2.5%.
  • African-Americans are planning to up their spending on electronics this year by 17%, reports Nielsen, with Asian-Americans and Hispanics spending 13% more each.
  • Affluents will be most likely found buying gift cards and toys, finds the Shullman Research Center.



Consumer Spending Trends

  • A Harris Interactive survey find that holiday spending remains consistent in comparison to last year, though online shopping will increase.
  • 6 in 10 US adults will set a budget on their holiday gift shopping, but the remainder won’t, says Ipsos, with women (64%) more likely than men (57%) to set a budget.
  • Hispanic shoppers will spend 7% more on holiday gifts this year than last, and will spend almost 15% more than the general population, finds Brand Keys in its holiday survey.
  • The extent to which holiday shoppers will increase their spending this year differs by retailer customer, per Prosper Insights & Analytics research. For example, Amazon shoppers plan to spend 9.9% more this year, while Target shoppers will only increase their spending by 1.1%.
  • While the above forecasts see an increase in order, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is predicting that holiday sales will decline by an unspecified amount, with this forecast based on a consumer survey showing a decrease in planned spending from last year.
  • In its annual survey, though, Deloitte reports that consumers forecast an overall increase of 13% in their holiday spending.
  • A Nielsen survey finds that consumers are planning to spend an average of 10% more this year than last. Of note, African-Americans (17% more), Hispanics (13% more) and Asian Americans (13% more) are planning above-average spending increases.
  • The NRF’s annual survey, meanwhile, indicates that the average person celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, and/or Hanukkah will spend 5% more this year than last.
  • A PunchTab survey suggests that while most consumers will spend the same as last year [download page], more will decrease their spending levels than increase them.
  • Survey results from the Shullman Research Center similarly reveal that affluents with a net worth of at least $1 million are more likely to decrease (19%) than increase (13%) their holiday spending. This net decrease is also seen for adults with a household income of at least $500k.

Shopping Destinations and E-Commerce

  • 98% of shoppers will buy holiday gifts online, but brick-and-mortar is still popular, too, according to Brand Keys: 96% will shop at discount department stores and 78% at traditional department stores. Compared to the general population, Hispanic shoppers are more likely to shop at traditional department stores and at specialty and apparel stores, but less likely to do so at discount department stores.
  • Don’t forget about malls? Simon hasn’t, and its survey finds that 89% of Millennials (18-33) who intend to buy at least one holiday gift will shop at the mall this holiday season. Simon calls them “Mallennials,” and says that online is for research and the mall is for purchasing. ACCENT has a different view, finding that 65% of consumer say that “going to the mall during the holidays is their worst nightmare.” Deloitte’s take? A majority (55%) will shop at malls, but 28% will shop at malls less than last year.
  • Also from Deloitte: shoppers will spend 52% of their budgets in-store, and 40% online.
  • Some 56% of respondents plan to shop online this year, per the NRF survey, with this the highest percentage in the 13-year history of the survey. Other popular destinations include discount (61.9%), department (59.7%) and grocery stores (51.2%).
  • The PunchTab study indicates that 9 in 10 consumers will shop online this holiday season with almost one-third of Millennials planning to do all of their shopping online.
  • More affluents will be shopping at online-only stores than at discount stores or department stores, reports the Shullman Research Center in its survey.
  • 8 in 10 consumers would drive 5-10 minutes out of their way for a $10 rebate on a $50 item, says parago in its shopper study.
  • PwC agrees that shoppers will be motivated by deals, with its survey finding that 84% of shoppers cite everyday prices as the main reason for choosing a place to purchase gifts, up from 74% last year. Results from the survey also indicate that half of spending will occur in physical stores, down from 55% last year, while 43% of spending will be online.
  • Some 51% of shoppers will spend at least 40% of their holiday budgets online this year, per a CFI Group holiday retail spending survey.
  • Discount retailers (71%) will be the top destination according to an Accenture study, though, while 58% will shop at online-only retailers.
  • The NPD Group forecasts online becoming the top sales channel for planned holiday shopping, as almost 6 in 10 consumers plan to do at least some of their shopping online.
  • Deloitte’s study also pegs the internet (45%) as the top retail source for holiday gift shopping, closely followed by discount/value department stores (44%). An estimated 40% of total holiday budgets will be spent online.

Mobile and Social

The Retailer and Brand Perspective

  • Some 19% of retail CMOs surveyed by BDO USA will focus most of their promotions online, up from 13% last year. About one-third expect social media promotions to be their most successful promotional tactic.
  • November 1-15 is the most popular time of the year for marketers in North America and around the world to launch their holiday campaigns, according to an Experian Marketing Services study [download page]. The survey reveals that email is the most commonly used channel for 2014 holiday campaigns, followed by websites and social media.
  • MailChimp email marketers are most likely to be including special offers (90.1%) and new product announcements (76.9%) in their holiday messaging. MailChimp’s survey also found that 88% of those who develop marketing programs specifically for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday have found those efforts to be successful.
  • According to an analysis of 475 million emails sent during the 2013 holiday season, Sailthru notes that retailers increased the number of emails sent during Thanksgiving week by 24% over the prior week. There was a significant drop in open rate that week, likely due to the increase in volume. Other metrics such as purchase-to-click and average order value peaked on Thanksgiving weekend, however.
  • More than 1 in 4 online retailers in the US and UK surveyed by ChannelAdvisor expect their holiday sales to increase by 11-15%. More than 4 in 10 were planning to start their promotions in September and 20% planned to in August. More than one-quarter expected to increase their digital marketing and advertising budgets.
  • The number of flash sales campaigns has more than doubled year-over-year, according to Experian Marketing Services. Separately, the most popular email subject line offers are dollar offers, with one-third of subject line offers including a dollar amount. Experian Marketing Services will be releasing data each week during the holiday season; marketers can sign up here to receive the “hot sheets.”
  • Two-thirds of marketers surveyed by Offerpop indicated that they will increase their spending on social media this season, and almost three-quarters identified Instagram as the breakout social network of this year for brands. For more on brand marketing on Instagram, see MarketingCharts’ report on the topic.

Other Data Points

  • More than three-quarters of consumers plan to buy some type of wearable this holiday season, according to YuMe, a seemingly high figure. Separately, 86% are enticed by “Free Shipping” promotions.
  • 2 in 3 Americans want to see real pictures of items from other users before they make a holiday purchase, finds Rivet Works. With pre-shopping research on their minds, 41% of respondents will search online through a brand website for best deals and products, and an equal percentage will ask friends and family for their opinions.
  • 40% of retail respondents (more than 800 largely national or global retailers in JLL-managed shopping centers around the US) plan to boost their customer experience [pdf] with up to 15% more seasonal staff, per JLL’s survey.
  • About one-third of holiday shoppers expect the majority of their purchases to be on sale or discounted, according to a survey conducted by Nielsen for The Conference Board.
  • The top holiday programs and benefits offered by retailers that consumers plan to use are: competitor price-matching on the spot (40%); loyalty programs for exclusive deals (35%); and purchasing online with in-store delivery/pick-up (32%). Those stats courtesy of Accenture.
  • Also via Accenture, free shipping is the leading incentive for making purchases online (69%), ahead of finding products that are cheaper than in-store (51%) and avoiding crowds and long check-out lines (50%).
  • PunchTab’s survey finds 80% of shoppers reporting that coupons and discounts are important in some way to their holiday shopping plans, and that a similar share feel that the ability to earn and use loyalty program benefits plays a role in deciding where to shop.
  • SDL’s global study indicates that 9 in 10 consumers expect a consistent omni-channel customer experience this holiday season, and two-thirds will pay a premium for a positive customer experience.
  • Omni-channel shoppers (mobile, store, internet) expect to spend 66% more this holiday season than store-only shoppers, according to Deloitte’s survey.
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