NRF-Holiday-Retail-Sales-2000-2013-Nov2013Thanksgiving is approaching and retailers are in full holiday mode. A slew of holiday-themed research has already been released, with many more studies no doubt on their way. This article, which will be continually updated throughout the holiday season, highlights key points from the research being released surrounding what looks to potentially be a modest spending season.

(All of the latest updates to the data will be bolded in the category lists below. Readers of the original article can skip ahead to the lists.)

The NRF itself is forecasting “marginal gains” for this season, projecting 3.9% year-over-year growth in retail sales to $602.1 billion (with online spending growing by 13-15% up to a potential $82 billion). While the overall increase is deemed “marginal,” it would still beat last year’s 3.5% growth, as well as the 10-year average of 3.3%.

The average holiday shopper is expected to spend $737.95 on gifts this year, per a separate NRF survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, about 2% less than the $752.24 they spent last year. Per-person spending estimates are down because consumers are looking to trim their “self-gifting” budgets this year: 57% will take advantage of sales and other discounts to buy themselves gifts this year, down from 59% last year. Additionally, “self-gifters” will spend an average of $129.62 on themselves, down from last year’s high of $140.43.

The NRF is a good authority, obviously, on spending trends for the holiday season (especially with the consistency afforded by its multi-year surveys and forecasts). But there are plenty of other data sources getting into the act, and some are much more bullish on the prospects for the upcoming season.

The following category lists highlight key data points along with the research source. Links to each piece of research are available at the bottom of this article (denoted with dates if the source has issued more than one piece of research).

(Note: The vast swathe of survey-driven research cited below means – not too surprisingly – that some very different conclusions are presented. This does not render the individual research results useless, but rather necessitates a broader trend-related perspective. That’s especially the case when looking at particular dollar amounts or percentages, which are included, but are probably less important than the year-over-year trends, where available.)

Spending Trends

  • Americans expect that they’ll spend an average of $1,014 on holiday gifts this year, a significant 20% rise from last year – a far more enthusiastic outlook than seen in most other research. (Discover.)
  • CMOs at leading retailers are forecasting a 2.5% increase in 2013 holiday comp stores sales, down from last year’s projection of a 3.7% rise. (BDO USA, 11/4.)
  • Holiday dollar sales will rise by only about 2%, and only 6% of consumers will spend more than $1,000. (Nielsen, 11/4.)
  • Consumers will be shopping later this year and project to spend 5% less than last year on average. (Brand Keys.)
  • The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is predicting total retail sales for the Nov-Dec period to increase by 4% to $738 billion, with online sales forecast to reach a new high of $57 billion, representing 18% year-over-year growth. Mobile purchases are expected to grow by 35% to exceed $8 billion, accounting for almost 15% of total online holiday purchases. (CEA, 10/1.)
  • The CEA is expecting a more moderate 2.6% rise in consumer electronics spending this holiday season, a slowdown from 4% growth last year. Tablets will be atop adults’ wish lists, while video game consoles will be tops on teens’ lists. (CEA, 10/24.)
  • US consumers intend to spend an average of $646 on gifts this holiday season, up 11% from $582 last year. (Accenture.)
  • Women (68%) are more likely than men (55%) to be setting themselves a holiday shopping budget. (Ipsos.)
  • US shoppers plan to spend 9% more on gifts this year ($421 vs. $386). Omnichannel shoppers will be far less frugal, expecting to spend a total of $1,643 across store, internet and mobile channels. (Deloitte.)
  • 1 in 4 affluent consumers plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season, compared to 18% who plan to spend more. On average, affluents expect to spend $1,730 this holiday season. (Unity Marketing.)
  • Consumers expect to spend on average $1,260 during the holiday season, $200 more than last year. (American Express.)
  • 1 in 4 US shoppers are worried about the cost of the holiday season, even as 56% will spend the same or more than they did last year. (RetailMeNot.)
  • Among the 23% of online holiday shoppers planning to spend more, the leading reason for doing so is better gift prices (discounts and deals). Those planning to spend less most commonly blame an increase in everyday prices. (PriceGrabber, 10/21.)

Shopping Times

  • US online sales could hit $2.27 billion on Cyber Monday, up 15% from last year, with Black Friday (up 17% to $1.63 billion) and Thanksgiving (up 21% to $1.09 billion) also seeing strong growth. (Adobe Digital Index.)
  • 40% of shoppers plan to go in-store on Black Friday and 30% plan to go online on Cyber Monday. (Discover).
  • The vast majority of US shoppers are not waiting for Black Friday (82%) or Cyber Monday (80%) to being their shopping. (SDL.)
  • 85% of consumers do not plan to shop on Black Friday this year. (Nielsen, 11/18).
  • 53% of US adults plan to shop on Black Friday this year, while 31% plan to shop at a retail store on Thanksgiving Day. (Ipsos, 11/6.)
  • Retailers are expecting a 3.1% increase in sales on Black Friday and a 3.7% rise on Cyber Monday. (BDO USA, 11/18.)
  • 43% of Millennials (18-34) plan to take advantage of Black Friday deals. (The Integer Group, M/A/R/C Research.)
  • Thanksgiving Day is “challenging Black Friday as the official start of the shopping season,” due to 22% of survey respondents planning to shop then. (Placed).
  • Almost 1 in 4 adults plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day. (NRF, 11/15).
  • Black Friday shoppers tend to be younger and more likely to have children than the average shopper, while also being more diverse ethnically. (Placed.)
  • About 4 in 10 shoppers have already started making purchases, while about 1 in 5 will begin their shopping in December. (NRF.)
  • 40% of users will begin their store shopping before Black Friday, and 33% plan to re-gift presents from holidays past. (
  • 30% of shoppers plan to have all their purchases completed by the end of November. (Deloitte).
  • 27% of consumers plan to finish their shopping before December 1st, up from 24% last year. (American Express.)
  • 41% of shoppers won’t finish buying until mid-December, and one-quarter will wait until the last minute. (Google).
  • The most popular days for shopping online will be Cyber Monday (69% of survey respondents) and Black Friday (68%). (MarketLive/e-tailing group.)
  • 55% will shop on Black Friday, with 30% doing the most of that shopping online. About 4 in 10 shoppers plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day. (Accenture.)
  • One-quarter of consumers plan to shop on Black Friday and about that many on Cyber Monday. But, 45% believe that Black Friday isn’t as important as it used to be. (Deloitte.)
  • Cyber Monday (55%) is a more popular shopping day this year than Black Friday (52%). 58% of Black Friday shoppers will hit the stores between 12AM and 7AM. (American Express.)
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday certainly are important shopping days, but two 4-day periods, December 1-4 and December 10-13 each accounted for just as much sales volume last year. (Custora.)
  • Mobile commerce purchases spiked on Christmas, Thanksgiving and Black Friday last year, but were below their monthly average (as a share of total e-commerce orders) on Cyber Monday. (Custora).

Shopping Destinations, Including E-Commerce

  • 17% of consumers are expecting to increase their online shopping this holiday season, including 20% among those from households with at least $100,000 in annual income. (Nielsen, 11/4.)
  • 53% of US shoppers prefer to shop in brick-and-mortar stores as opposed to online this holiday season, up from 51% last year. (SDL).
  • On Black Friday, most shoppers will go to department stores (71%) and electronic stores (58%), while 51% will shop online and 48% at supercenters/mass merchants/discounters. (Nielsen, 11/18).
  • Among those planning to shop on Black Friday, 37% will shop both online and in stores. (Ipsos, 11/6).
  • While consumers plan to do more of their pre-Thanksgiving shopping at online retailers than at mass merchants or department stores, they will do more last-minute shopping at mass merchants and department stores (presumably because they won’t have time to wait for the shipping). (Integer Group, M/A/R/C Research.)
  • A majority of consumers will shop at discounters (64.7%), department stores (56.3%) and grocery stores (51.1%) for gifts and goods this season, while 51.5% will shop online. (NRF.)
  • Superstores (66%) and department stores (62%) rank as the top store destinations. (American Express.)
  • For the first time, more consumers will shop online (47%) than at discount/value department stores (44%). (Deloitte.)
  • Online shoppers will be shopping at online retailers (75%) and discount stores (68%) during the holiday season. (PriceGrabber, 10/30.)
  • 9 in 10 US holiday shoppers will do at least some of their shopping online, and about one-quarter will do more than half of their shopping online. (RetailMeNot.)
  • 87% of consumers agree that they will always check Amazon before making most online purchases (MarketLive/e-tailing group.)
  • Respondents estimate that they will complete about 40% of their shopping online. (NRF.)
  • If a product is not available on a store’s website, more than three-quarters of online shoppers will go elsewhere to find it. (Deloitte.)
  • The internet will be the top holiday shopping information resource, used twice as much as TV or catalogs. (Google.)

Top Products and Categories

  • The top 5 holiday gifts planned for purchase this year are: gift cards; tech products; toys; food; and apparel. (Nielsen, 11/4.)
  • The iPhone (32%) and iPad (24%) count as teens’ most-requested electronic gift items for teens. (Ebates.)
  • More shoppers plan to buy electronics (87%) than clothing (71%), toys (58%), and jewelry (30%). (Discover).
  • About one-quarter of mobile consumers typically spend at least $50 on holiday gifts using their mobile device. The mobile purchases types they tend to make are games (29%), clothing (26%), tech/travel (25%), entertainment (24%) and food/beverage (13%). (Tapjoy.)
  • 18% of broadband households plan to buy a tablet during the holidays, compared to 16% planning a game console purchase. (Parks Associates, 11/5).
  • More game console shoppers are planning to buy a Sony console (36%) than a Microsoft product (27%) this holiday season. (Parks Associates, 11/19).
  • Gift cards are the most popular item on shopping lists (56%), slightly ahead of apparel (54%), with toys (44%) and personal electronics (27%) also popular. (Accenture.)
  • The top 5 products consumers say they’ll purchase on a mobile device during the holiday season are: books; clothing and footwear; music and video; consumer electronics; and event tickets.(Hipcricket.)

The Importance of Promotions and Deals

  • Retailers’ sales and promotions are the most likely factor to influence shoppers’ holiday spending (44%), ahead of household expenses (27%) and existing debt obligations (14%). (Discover).
  • Some 37% of adults say that they are very likely to search online for coupons, deals or sales before making a holiday purchase, and another 32% are likely to do so. The proportions are greater among women, younger adults, and those from higher-income households. (Ipsos, 11/6.)
  • 54% of shoppers will take advantage of free shipping deals. (Integer Group, M/A/R/C Research.)
  • The most important factor in deciding where to shop are offers for sales and discounts, for 35.6% of respondents, followed by selection of merchandise (16.4%). (NRF.)
  • 2 in 3 online shoppers believe retailers will offer better prices and discounts this year as a result of the economy.(PriceGrabber, 10/21.)
  • 94% of shoppers say that discounts will be important to their purchasing decisions, up from 84% last year. About half expect at least three-quarters of their purchases to be for discounted or sale items. (Accenture.)
  • Price (90%) is easily the top factor in ensuring customer loyalty to retailers, while free standard shipping without conditions (91%) ranks as the promotion that consumers will most likely take advantage of this holiday season. (Marketlive/e-tailing group.)
  • The leading reasons why online shoppers will be loyal to stores they purchased from last year are: good customer service (70%); free shipping (62%); and good sales and discounts (58%). (PriceGrabber, 10/30.)
  • 7 in 10 shoppers expect free shipping online, and 47% expect free returns. (Deloitte.)
  • The retailer tactics most likely to entice online shoppers this holiday season are price cuts (72%), coupons (54%) and sales (41%). (PriceGrabber, 10/30.)
  • 81% of shoppers will rely on discounts, with women more likely to use deals and more open to trying out new retailers. (Google.)
  • 73% of shoppers believe that their holiday spending will be influenced by coupons and promotional offers. (Deloitte.)
  • What will it take for a consumer to pay full price for a gift this holiday season? Something that’s perfect for someone on their list (40%), a hard to find product that has been requested (39%), items that never go on sale (35%) and free shipping on the order (31%). (MarketLive/e-tailing group.)
  • 62% of shoppers said that it will require a discount of at least 30% for them to make a purchase, up from 52% last year. (Accenture.)
  • Free shipping would influence the most (68.5% of) mobile owners to increase the amount of shopping they do on their devices, with mobile coupons (45.8%) next-most influential. (Hipcricket.)
  • Among the 9 in 10 US adults who make purchases online, about 4 in 10 say they search for online coupons, deals or sales always (19%) or most of the time (23%). (Ipsos.)
  • 47% of consumers plan to use coupons or promotions for holiday shopping; 82% opt for a hybrid (online and offline) approach to saving. (American Express.)
  • Two-thirds of consumers plan to take advantage of offers via social media sites, up from 60% last year. Facebook (49%) will be the most common social resource, followed by Groupon (43%), Pinterest (20%) and Twitter (20%). (American Express.)
  • The most appealing deals to Black Friday shoppers are percentage-off deals. (Wanderful Media.)

The Influence of Mobile Devices

  • Smartphones will most commonly used this holiday season to research and read reviews (35%), use an email offer or mobile coupon (30%), make purchases (29%) and locate a store (28%). Some 43% of mobile consumers typically purchase 1-3 items on their device per transaction. (Tapjoy.)
  • Among US consumers who use a mobile device to shop, 55% of women and 42% of men use mobile shopping applications at least somewhat frequently. (Burst Media).
  • Some 23% of online consumers claimed that they would be comfortable purchasing all of their holiday gifts using a mobile device. (PriceGrabber, 11/19.)
  • About 54% of smartphone owners will use their device to look up store hours, compare prices and purchase products, as will 63% of tablet owners. (Accenture.)
  • Almost 1 in 4 online shoppers plan to download new mobile applications to help them shop this holiday season. Respondents are most likely to be planning to download the following apps: coupon apps (61%); comparison shopping apps (55%); apps from favorite retailers (54%), Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday apps to search for the best deals (50%); and apps that enable barcode scanning (43%). (PriceGrabber, 11/19).
  • About half of consumers will use mobile devices to shop, up from 32% last year, while 25% will use them to browse for gift ideas and 20% to compare prices with barcode scanning applications. (American Express.)
  • Two-thirds of Black Friday shoppers either will use or will consider using a mobile device to help them with their shopping, primarily to check prices or use the geo-locator to find nearby sales. (Wanderful Media.)
  • 80% of consumers will use multiple devices while holiday shopping, and 84% will start shopping on one devices but finish on another. (Google.)
  • 63% of consumers plan to “showroom” this holiday season, matched by the 65% who plan to “webroom.” The primary motivators for webrooming are avoiding shipping costs (47%) and being able to touch and feel a product before buying it (46%). (Accenture.)
  • A slight majority of mobile device owners believe that shopping on their mobile is more attractive than visiting a retail location. About 4 in 10 intend to shop more on their smartphone or tablet than last year. (Hipcricket.)
  • 4 in 10 mobile owners will use their device to look for product coupons. Men are more likely than women to make a purchase on their device, as well as to compare prices using their mobile while in-store. (Hipcricket.)

Retailer Tactics, Marketing Channels, and Other Data

  • About 3 in 4 US shoppers will pay more for a product if the brand offers a positive customer experience. (SDL.)
  • The top information sources for Cyber Monday sales are store websites (74%), word of mouth (74%), emails (68%), Cyber Monday deal sites (51%), social media sites (48%) and newspapers and circulars (43%). (Nielsen, 11/18).
  • In order to research Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals ahead of time, shoppers will rely on newspapers and online news sites (42%), retailers’ websites and promotional emails (33%), social media (8%) and TV/radio (8%). (Discover).
  • Only 5% of respondents from the US, UK and Australia say they’ll learn about products on Facebook and Google+, while fewer than 2% will do so on Pinterest and Twitter. (SDL.)
  • While only 2% of shoppers will go directly from a social network to a retailer, 36% of US consumers claim that at least 30% of their purchases will require them to check social media before making their final purchase decision. (Adobe Digital Index.)
  • Top trending keywords on Yahoo for this holiday season as of November 11 include “Black Friday 2013” and “Black Friday ads,” while on the toys front, “Lego marvel superheroes” is on the rise. (Yahoo.)
  • The lifetime value (amount spent in the 2 years after initial purchase) of customers acquired during the 2012 holiday season is estimated to be 15% lower than the average. Lower-than-average CLV is especially acute for customers acquired through paid search and display, and not quite as pronounced for those acquired through email and Facebook. (Custora, 11/4.)
  • Customer service representatives (77%) and 24/7 customer service access (also 77%) count as the most important features for a website’s customer assistance when buying gifts online. (MarketLive/e-tailing group.)
  • 55% of retailers plan to use 4 or more channels in their campaigns this season, with their top 3 being email, online display and search. (Experian Marketing Services.)
  • Free shipping, e-coupons and deal-of-the-day tactics will reign supreme among retailers. (Experian Marketing Services.)
  • The most clickable word combos on Bing ads differ significantly by product category and device. The terms can be accessed in slides 18-21 of the presentation linked to below. (Bing Ads.)
  • Traditional media sources such as newspaper circulars, TV and direct mail are considered among the top information sources by Black Friday shoppers, with newspapers the top source. (Wanderful Media.)
  • About 8 in 10 Black Friday shoppers are interested in receiving email alerts concerning the latest Black Friday deals. (Wanderful Media.)

Source Links

Experian Marketing Services, 8/27.
CEA, 10/1., 10/1.
Accenture, 10/7.
Hipcricket, 10/10
RetailMeNot, 10/17.
Bing Ads, 10/18.
PriceGrabber, 10/21.
Ipsos, 10/22.
Deloitte, 10/22.
Unity Marketing, 10/23.
MarketLive/e-tailing group, 10/23.
CEA, 10/24.
Wanderful Media, 10/28.
PriceGrabber, 10/30
Google, 10/31.
Custora, 11/4.
Ebates, 11/12.
Discover, 10/30.
Tapjoy, 11/4.
SDL, 11/4.
BDO USA, 11/4.
BSO USA, 11/18.
Parks Associates, 11/5.
Parks Associates, 11/19.
Adobe Digital Index, 11/5.
Burst Media, 11/5.
Nielsen, 11/4.
Nielsen, 11/18.
Ipsos, 11/6.
The Integer Group, M/A/R/C Research, 11/11.
Yahoo, 11/11.
Placed, 11/12.
Brand Keys, 11/14.
PriceGrabber, 11/19.
NRF, 11/15.

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