(Updated to include more purchasing predictions for the holiday. See information at the bottom of this page.)

Holiday spending has the potential to shatter previous records, as the National Retail Federation (NRF) forecast that holiday sales during November and December will grow between 8.5 percent and 10.5 percent over 2020 to between $843.4 billion and $859 billion.

The numbers (which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants) compare with a previous high of 8.2 percent in 2020 to $777.3 billion and an average increase of 4.4 percent over the past five years.

“There is considerable momentum heading into the holiday shopping season. Consumers are in a very favorable position going into the last few months of the year as income is rising and household balance sheets have never been stronger. Retailers are making significant investments in their supply chains and spending heavily to ensure they have products on their shelves to meet this time of exceptional consumer demand.”

Matthew Shay
NRF President and CEO

NRF expects that online and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, will increase between 11 percent and 15 percent to a total of between $218.3 billion and $226.2 billion driven by online purchases. In comparison, that number is up from $196.7 billion in 2020.

See NRF coverage | October 27, 2021 | “NRF Predicts Highest Holiday Retail Sales on Record

More holiday spending research findings from NRF.

$997.73 | Consumers plan to spend and average of $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year, according to the annual survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics. Despite the continued supply chain disruption, this is on par with consumer spending last year.

90% | Percentage of U.S. adults plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, up from 87% last year.

Consumers are prioritizing gifts for family and friends and purchases related to holiday celebrations such as food or décor.

Overall plans for holiday spending remain slightly below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83 in 2019, as fewer consumers plan to spend on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.

Percent of holiday shoppers who start holiday purchasing before November

While nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts during the holiday season to make non-gift purchases, they plan to spend an average of $118.41 on these items. In contrast, in 2019, 60 percent planned to make these types of purchases and expected to spend $162.02. As many continue to work from home, shoppers are also less inclined to purchase gifts for co-workers.  

However, consumers are motivated to check items off their lists earlier than ever.

49% | Percentage of holiday shoppers who will start browsing and buying before November, up from 42 percent in 2020 and the highest in the survey’s history.

Why do they shop early?

36% | Percentage of early shoppers who say they do not want to miss out on key holiday items

47% | … Say they want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping

“Over the last few years, consumers have demonstrated the desire to begin their holiday shopping earlier and earlier,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “This year in particular, as retailers promote holiday inventory, they are taking advantage of additional offerings such as free shipping, buy online, pick up in store and even expedited shipping to ensure they receive their gifts on time.”

The supply chain challenges that have been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic are top of mind for consumers.

47% | Percentage of holiday shoppers are concerned they will have difficulty finding items this year.

Category of gifts that early shoppers say they are concerned will be hard to find if they wait too late.

44% | Electronics
40% | Clothes
28% | Toys 

Online Shopping

57% | Percentage of shoppers who plan to purchase holiday items online this year, down from 60 percent who identified online as a holiday destination in 2020 and in line with pre-pandemic norms.  

Other top holiday shopping destinations include department stores (47%), discount stores (44%), grocery stores (43%) and clothing/accessories stores (30%).

24% | Percentage of consumers who plan to shop specifically at a local or small business. 

Research | The National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics


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