Special holiday edition: 'Tis the season for shopping

Ana Serafin Smith
November 20, 2017
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The biggest shopping event of the year is just around the corner, and NRF estimates consumers will spend an average of $967 per person this holiday season. “Consumer confidence is high,” says Katherine Cullen, NRF’s director of retail and consumer insights.  “People are feeling really good about the state of the economy.” The figure reflects all spending done over the season, and includes purchases of gifts for friends and family, food, décor and candy — and “everyone uses those sales to pick up something special for themselves,” she says.

At the National Retail Federation, Cullen and her research team pore over consumer spending data to answer questions about what people are buying, where they’re shopping and what makes them choose one channel over another. On this special holiday edition of Retail Gets Real, Cullen shares insights on what retailers can expect to see this season.

Katherine Cullen (left) joins co-hosts Ana Smith (center) and Bill Thorne (right).

Katherine Cullen (left) joins co-hosts Ana Smith (center) and Bill Thorne (right).

Holiday shopping has evolved with Millennials and Generation Z now in the picture. Nearly 90 percent of consumers under the age of 34 are looking forward to shopping during Thanksgiving weekend because “deals are too good to pass up,” Cullen says. It’s also a social activity for them, and retailers are embracing this trend; Walmart will host 20,000 parties in their stores for consumers this year.

Retailers are previewing deals earlier in response to consumer behavior — by Thanksgiving, more than half of consumers will have started their holiday shopping with activities like making wish lists. But “they’re still not necessarily wrapping up any faster,” Cullen says. “It’s actually just a longer holiday season from what we’re seeing.”

Listen to the episode to learn about what toys are most popular with kids this year, and what large and small retailers are doing differently to entice holiday shoppers. Subscribe to Retail Gets Real for more insightful and entertaining episodes.

Ana Serafin Smith is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.