Winter Holidays

pinecones and other holiday themed items

Winter Holidays

NRF’s holiday surveys gauge consumer sentiment and shopping trends during the winter holiday season, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday and Christmas.

Family holiday shopping in the snow
 
More than 164 million consumers plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend

The annual NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics survey found that 21 percent (34 million) plan to shop on Thanksgiving Day, but Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 71 percent (116 million) planning to shop. 

 
Consumers will spend 4.1 percent more than last year during winter holidays

Consumers say they will spend an average $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 last year. They will spend in three main categories — gifts at $637.67, items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards at $215.04 and non-gift purchases made because deals are good at $154.53.

 
three women are walking at an outdoor shopping center with shopping bags
 
 
Hundreds of people shop at a busy outdoor mall during the holiday season
 
This holiday, discounts will win shoppers

5 retail sales and promotions trends leading up to Thanksgiving weekend.

 
Holiday forecast 2018

Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, NRF expects holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion.

 
A blue door with a holiday wreath hanging
 
Did you know?

The term “Cyber Monday” was coined by NRF for the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is seen by many retailers, shoppers and the media as the official kickoff to the online holiday shopping season.

 
Holiday FAQs

Have questions? We’ve got answers.

 

Historical highlights

2017

Holiday sales during November and December 2017 increased 5.5 percent over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion as growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence led consumers to spend more than had been expected. The results exceeded NRF’s forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion. December alone was up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November and up 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday weekend. The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday, cited by 77 million consumers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 55 million consumers. 

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2016

The 2016 Holiday season was full of surprises. The start of the season coincided with the U.S. presidential election and consumers seemed initially cautious about their spending plans. However, once the election had passed, shoppers fully embraced the holiday spirit. Total holiday retail sales during November and December increased 4 percent over 2015, exceeding NRF’s initial forecast of $655.8 billion. For the second year in a row, Barbie topped the toy list for girls while Legos continued to lead the list for boys. In addition to spending on gifts for friends, family members and co-workers, consumers also use the season to pick up non-gift items. Nearly two-thirds of consumers planned to take advantage of the 2016 holiday sales to splurge on something extra for themselves or their families.

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2015

The 2015 holiday season provided tough obstacles for the retail industry including weather and inventory challenges. Average spending per person during the holiday season was over $800 for the second year in a row, with more than half of shoppers splurging on non-gift items for themselves. Barbie was back in the number one spot on the Top Toys list after falling behind Disney’s Frozen in 2014, following an 11-year reign.

Related resources:

More consumer trends

NRF survey says more than 164 million consumers plan to shop over five-day Thanksgiving weekend
 
Women shopping for holidays
Black Friday remains the busiest day of the weekend, with 71 percent planning to shop that day.
Read more
This holiday, discounts will win shoppers
 
Hundreds of people shop at a busy outdoor mall during the holiday season
5 retail sales and promotions trends leading up to Thanksgiving weekend.
Read more
Consumers will spend 4.1 percent more than last year during winter holidays
 
holiday shopper carrying giftwrapped items
Consumers will spend $1,007.24 during the 2018 holiday season.
Read more
NRF study says consumers shop at discount retailers regardless of age or income
 
woman pushing a shopping cart through a store
89 percent of consumers shop at various discount retailers.
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Monthly Economic Review: September 2018
 
small business displaying USA flag
Economic data looks solid again for the third quarter.
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Back-to-Class shopping continues as school begins
 
A stack of books and an apple
Consumers had completed just over half their shopping as students head back to class this month.
Read more