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Holiday 2015

Retail Holiday Sales Increase 3 Percent

Retail Holiday Sales

Holiday retail sales increased 3%
Holiday sales in 2015 increased 3% to $626.1 billion – solid growth considering unforeseen weather events across the country and the extreme deflationary retail environment. Online and other non-store holiday sales grew 9 percent to $105 billion. Read more.

Holiday Sales Update

Consumers win as retailers cut holiday prices
Holiday sales so far are lower than expected, but the reason is lower prices, not less demand for merchandise. NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz takes a look at the latest numbers and concludes that lowers prices are good for shoppers, and what’s good for consumers is — in the long run — good for retailers. Get the latest insights.

holiday sales

December Consumer Survey

90 Percent of Holiday Shoppers Still Have Lists to Wrap Up
NRF's latest consumer survey finds that the average holiday shopper has completed half of their shopping. The survey also asked holiday shoppers about their feelings toward buying and receiving gifts of experience, as well as plans to shop later this month. Nearly half of shoppers plan to shop retailers' after-Christmas sales in stores and online. View survey highlights.

Return Fraud Survey

Holiday return fraud to cost retailers $2.2 billion this year
Retail fraud is especially rampant during the holiday season when online and in-store traffic grows significantly. NRF’s survey finds that holiday return fraud is expected to cost retailers $2.2 billion, up from approximately $1.9 billion last year. View survey highlights and download the Retail Equation report from NRF's Retail Library.

Tips for happy holiday returns: check out the top tips to help consumers have a pleasant experience when returning gifts this holiday season. 

Tie Bar CEO Michael Alter

Recent articles

Small Business Spotlight: The Tie Bar
Chicago-based men’s accessories retailer uses holiday pop-up shops to test new markets.

Black Friday: Changing, but far from gone
A visible shift in holiday promotions has had a profound impact on Black Friday's importance.

The retail supply chain and the future of fulfillment
Holiday deadlines for domestic shipping reignite conversation on innovation in fulfillment.

Consumers win as retailers cut holiday prices
Lower prices, not less demand, are behind lower-than-expected holiday sales.

First half of holiday season shows solid growth in sales
November retail sales increased 0.5 percent from October and 3.0 percent over last year.

3 things you should know about data security and holiday shopping
Retailers are working to make this holiday season even safer.

8 books retailers should read in 2016
Three bookstore owners share their recommendations.

From Cyber Monday to Snapchat: The evolution of online holiday shopping
Celebrating Cyber Monday’s 10th anniversary with a look at digital holidays past, present and future.

6 holiday trends to watch
Retail’s biggest season is officially underway. Here’s what we know — so far — about Holiday 2015.

3 tips for involving your community in Small Business Saturday
Retail entrepreneurs offer tips for encouraging your neighborhood to Shop Small.

Holiday Shopping

Thanksgiving Weekend

Survey: More Than 121 Million Consumers Plan to Shop Online on Cyber Monday 
NRF’s Cyber Monday Expectations Survey finds that 121 million (49.5%) shoppers plan to shop online on Cyber Monday, down slightly from the 126.9 million who planned to participate last year. View survey highlights.

Survey: Thanksgiving Weekend Shopping Brings Big In-Store and Online Crowds
More than 151 million people said they shopped either in stores and/or online over the weekend, according to NRF's survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Nearly 102 million people say they shopped in stores over the Thanksgiving weekend, and more than 103 million say they shopped online. Those under 35 were most likely to shop over the weekend. View survey highlights.

NRF President and CEO: Thanksgiving Weekend Off to a Great Start 
The lines were long, the clicks were plenty and the stores were full says NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay about the start of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. View Shay's key takeaways and Black Friday statement.

Thinking Big about Shopping Small

Report: Thinking big about shopping small

Small businesses have a distinct advantage: They’re agile and can adapt to changing conditions throughout the holiday season. This year, one in four holiday shoppers plan to purchase from small or local retailers. A new NRF report offers a last-minute look at survey data to see how consumers who plan to “shop small” differ from the average shopper. Download the report.

Holiday Gift Box

November Consumer Surveys

135.8 million Americans plan to shop on Thanksgiving weekend
Nearly 60 percent of holiday shoppers had already started checking items off their lists by the middle of last week, but millions more are eagerly waiting to hear what retailers have in store – and online – for the biggest holiday shopping weekend of the year. NRF’s latest survey finds that 135.8 million consumers plan to shop Thanksgiving weekend and nearly 80 percent of holiday shoppers — 183.8 million people — plan to shop on Cyber Monday.

Early holiday promotions put gift card buyers in gift wrapping mode
Gift cards have been the most-requested holiday gift item in NRF’s survey for nine years running. But for the first time, shoppers say they plan to spend slightly less on gift cards than last year. Those who plan to buy gift cards will spend an average $153.08, down from $172.74 in 2014. Total gift card spending is expected to reach $25.9 billion.

Holiday shoppers already making dents in their lists
American consumers are wasting no time jumping on holiday offerings from retailers. NRF’s latest consumer spending survey finds that nearly 57 percent of those celebrating the holidays had already started shopping by early November, up from 54 percent last year and 49 percent in 2008. 

Online holiday shopping

October Consumer Survey

Holiday shoppers gear up to spend on family and themselves
NRF’s latest survey finds that holiday shoppers plan to spend an average $463 on family members, up from $458 last year and the highest in survey history. Average spending per person is expected to reach $805, with more than half of shoppers planning to splurge on non-gift items for themselves.

Get ready for a very digital holiday season
Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise, the highest since NRF first asked in 2011. View more highlights from NRF's October consumer spending survey.

NRF's 2015 Holiday Survival Kit

NRF's Holiday Sales Forecast

NRF expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurants) to increase a solid 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion — significantly higher than the 10-year average of 2.5 percent. Online sales are forecast to increase between 6 and 8 percent to as much as $105 billion. Retailers are expected to hire between 700,000 and 750,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, in line with last year’s 714,000 holiday positions. View forecast details.

Historical Trends and Expectations

NRF's annual overview of holiday trends and expectations serves as a guide for reporters and retailers, offering historical information on holiday sales, employment data and consumer trends. Download NRF's 2015 Holiday Survival Kit (PDF).

2015 Holiday Planning Playbook

Retail Holiday Planning Playbook

NRF's inaugural Retail Holiday Planning Playbook asks retail IT, marketing, loss prevention, digital and supply chain executives what they will do differently for Holiday 2015. The resulting retailers’ guide answers key questions about the upcoming holiday season. Download the playbook.

Video: How Alex and Ani prepares for the holiday season
Alex and Ani Chief Marketing Officer and Senior VP of Digital Ryan Bonifacino explains how the company’s internal teams are working together to plan for Holiday 2015. Watch the video.

Holiday 2014

The 2014 holiday season was one for the history books: Disney’s “Frozen” took the top spot on the girls’ Top Toys List for the first time in the survey’s 11-year history, holiday shoppers opted for early promotions even before the Thanksgiving weekend kicked off — shifting how much people spent over the biggest shopping weekend of the year — and for the first time in 12 years, consumer spent more than $800 on average on holiday gifts, food, decorations and more.

Related press releases:

Historical Highlights


A shortened holiday calendar, an early Thanksgiving and an October government shutdown puts the 2013 holiday season in the books as one of the most interesting in history. For the first time in 17 years, holiday shoppers watched as Washington shut its doors for two weeks in October. During his annual holiday forecast media call, NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay told listeners that the 3.9 percent forecast “was a very realistic look at where we are in the current economy.”

Related press releases:


The economic picture going into the holiday season was much like it was the year prior – uncertain. Government data showed a crosscurrent of indicators that hung in the balance of Washington’s decision to avoid a “fiscal cliff.” NRF’s first holiday spending survey found that consumers would spend close to what they’d spent the previous year, an average of $740 on gifts, decorations, flowers, food and more.

Related press releases:


In December, NRF announced it was revising its holiday forecast upwards to 3.8 percent from the original forecast of 2.8 percent. Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz commented, “Consumer spending this holiday season has surpassed expectations, though many shoppers continue to stick to their budgets and buy only what they need. Despite modest job and income growth, consumers have continuously proven they have the capacity to spend.” Holiday sales in 2011 ended up increasing even more than expected at 4.8 percent.

Related press releases:

Holiday Trends
NRF's 2015 Holiday Survival Kit

NRF's annual overview of holiday trends and expectations serves as a guide for reporters and retailers, offering historical information on holiday sales, employment data and consumer trends.

Holiday sales in 2015 increased to $626.1 billion. Non-store sales grew 9 percent.