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Holiday 2015

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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. 

Holiday decorations

Recent articles

From Cyber Monday to Snapchat: The evolution of online holiday shopping
The phrase “Cyber Monday” was coined in 2005, and a lot has changed in the past decade. NRF’s Artemis Berry marks this milestone anniversary with a look at the incredible evolution of online holiday shopping, from the remarkable rise of Singles’ Day to mobile’s game-changing impact to trends in social engagement and digital gifting. Check out these trends.

6 holiday trends to watch
November is here, Starbucks’ red cups are back and the holiday season is officially underway. NRF’s Kathy Grannis digs into the results of the season’s first consumer spending survey to get an early glimpse of trends, from self-gifting and omnichannel fulfillment to hot toys and same-day delivery. Keep an eye on these trends.

3 tips for involving your community in Small Business Saturday
On Small Business Saturday, small business owners across the country join together to encourage consumers in their communities to shop locally. This year, American Express has teamed up with NRF to chat with small business retail veterans and get advice for making the most of the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Here’s how to get your neighborhood involved.

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.

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

The holiday shopping season is the Super Bowl of retail and NRF is taking on the role of coach with the inaugural Retail Holiday Planning Playbook, which 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.

How Alex and Ani prepares for the holiday season
Multichannel retail is always challenging, but becomes more of a balancing act during 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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

Small Business
Three bookstore owners share their recommendations.