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Holiday 2014

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Checking in with holiday shoppers

Early promotions helped holiday shoppers get ahead this year. NRF's latest survey finds that as of December 10, the average holiday shopper has completed 52.9 percent of their shopping as of December 10, up from 49.9 percent last year. View survey highlights and check out key stats on SlideShare.

November retail sales

November Retail Sales

Deep discounting and early sales helped lift spending in November. NRF calculates that retail sales (not including automobiles, gas stations or restaurants) increased 0.6% seasonally-adjusted over October and 3.2% unadjusted year-over-year. Gains were consistent with NRF’s holiday sales forecast, which anticipates an increase of 4.1% over 2013. Read the article.

Holiday shopping

The evolution of Black Friday shopping

NRF released its annual Thanksgiving weekend and Cyber Monday consumer surveys on Sunday, Nov. 30. Results showed that fewer consumers shopped over the weekend and that those who did shop spent less. At the same time, NRF's annual holiday sales forecast remains strong at 4.1 percent higher than last year. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay explains why he's highly optimistic about that growth and outlines three basic but important reasons for this shift. Read the article.

Online holiday shopping

Cyber Monday Expectations

Online holiday shoppers may be waiting for Cyber Monday to see what promotions retailers have planned. More than 126 million Americans plan to shop online on Cyber Monday. Nearly 85 percent will use a computer at home, and one in five plan to use a mobile device to shop. View survey highlights.

Holiday shopping

Thanksgiving Weekend Results

Early promotions, online shopping and an improving economy are changing the way millions of consumers shop for the holidays. Black Friday still draws the biggest crowds, with nearly 87 million shoppers in stores and online. Explore trends and view survey highlights.

Holiday shopping

Black Friday

“Reports of record-breaking online sales and store crowds point to a more confident and savvy holiday shopper who knows when, where and how to take advantage of all the promotions retailers are offering," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says. Read the statement.

Holiday Toys

Top Holiday Toys

Barbie had a good run as number one, but there's a new queen in town. NRF's survey finds one in five parents plan to buy Disney’s Frozen merchandise for the little girls in their life this holiday season, beating Barbie for the first time in the survey’s 11-year history. LEGO toys are number one again for boys this year. View survey results.

Holiday shopping

Thanksgiving Weekend Expectations

Retailers and consumers are gearing up for the biggest shopping weekend of the holiday season. This year, 140 million Americans are likely to shop in stores or online during Thanksgiving weekend. Nearly eight in 10 Millennials ages 18-24 plan to shop over the weekend, the highest of any age group. View survey results.

On the Street
NRF asked shoppers in Washington, DC how they plan to shop over Thanksgiving weekend.
Holiday shopping crowds

Crowd Management

Effective crowd management is a year-round priority for retailers. But special events around the holidays elevate the importance of planning and protocols that protect customers, employees and stores. NRF's crowd management guidelines help retailers plan for millions of shoppers on Thanksgiving weekend. Learn more or download the guidelines.

Gift Cards

Gift Card Spending

The growth in gift card popularity is irrefutable, and this holiday season spending on tiny plastic or digital gift cards will top all previous records. The average person buying gift cards will spend $172.74, up from $163.16 last year, with total spending expected to reach $31.74 billion. View survey results.

Holiday shopping

Consumer Shopping Survey

Nearly half of holiday shoppers haven't started yet, according to NRF's survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. Retailers have reacted to this "wait and see" mentality with fewer October promotions and a quieter entry into November. View survey results.

Shipping and delivery

Shipping Deadlines

With expectations higher than ever, retailers are assertively preparing their shipping operations to avoid delivery and service hiccups. Nearly eight in 10 retailers surveyed will set their standard shipping deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery to expire at least a week before the big day, compared to 73 percent last holiday season. View survey results.

Holiday gifts

eHoliday Pre-Holiday Survey's eHoliday survey looks at how retailers and consumers plan to approach the holidays, with topics ranging from mobile optimization and marketing to personalization and paid search. The average online shopper plans to spend $931.75 this year, 16 percent more than all holiday shoppers. Check out the highlights and download complete survey results.

Holiday tablet shopping

Consumer Spending Survey

NRF's consumer spending survey finds that the average shopper plans to spend $804, up nearly 5 percent over last year’s actual $767. A record-high 56 percent plan to shop online, up from 51.5 percent last year and the most in the survey’s 13-year history. View survey results and listen to audio from the media briefing.

Holiday Forecast

NRF's Holiday Forecast

After a turbulent start to 2014, NRF expects sales in November and December (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to increase a healthy 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, higher than 2013’s actual 3.1 percent increase. Read more and learn how Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz calculates the forecast.

Online holiday spending

Online Holiday Spending has released its 2014 online holiday sales forecast, expecting sales in November and December to grow 8 to 11 percent over last holiday season to as much as $105 billion. Read more.

Holiday Hiring

Holiday Hiring

NRF expects retailers to hire 730,000 to 790,000 seasonal workers this holiday season, potentially more than they actually hired during the 2013 holiday season (768,000). Seasonal employment in 2013 increased 14 percent over the previous year. Read more.

NRF 2014 Holiday Survival Kit

Holiday Survival Kit

NRF’s Holiday Survival Kit serves as a guide for reporters and retailers, offering historical information on holiday sales, employment data and consumer trends. Download the PDF.

Consumer Spending Holidays 2013

2013: Truth vs. Fiction

2013 was no easy street for retail – and it didn’t help that many of the status reports and rumors didn’t reflect what was really happening in the industry. We’ve taken a look back at what we heard in the media and elsewhere, and compared it with research data collected during and after the season. Learn more or download the report.

Holiday Strategy and Planning Guide

eHoliday Snapshots's five-part Holiday Planning and Strategy Guide is a series of members-only resources that examine the online holiday shopper, key holiday dates, fulfillment and customer service, merchandising and marketing. Learn more or download eHoliday resources.

Holiday Sales - In Billions
Charts from the NRF Foundation’s Retail Insight Center. To access this data and more research please visit the Retail Insight Center.
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:

Finding associates with certified retail skills

Looking for employees with a commitment to customer satisfaction? The NRF Foundation issues nationally recognized certifications in customer service, sales and retail management. A new online registry lets employers verify the certification status of applicants and search for prospective employees with a demonstrated interest in retail.

Holiday sales, which include November and December, increased to $616.1 billion.