This holiday shopping season is already shaping up to be merry and bright, according to data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics.
Just over 54 percent of the 7,439 consumers surveyed between Oct. 31-Nov. 7 said they’d spend the same amount as they did last year, while 24.3 percent expect to spend more. Nearly 17 percent will spend less than in 2016.
Furthermore, the NRF noted that 46 percent of shoppers between 18-24 — a range that includes the oldest members of Generation Z — say they will spend more than in 2016.
“As Gen Z and Millennials gets older, their purchasing power increases, and the rise in disposable income is sure to be seen by retailers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This group of consumers has spent time carefully researching gifts for friends, family and themselves, and are ready to begin knocking out their shopping lists.”
Just over a third of American consumers expect to give food or candy this year — up from 31 percent last year. Meanwhile, consumers are, on average, projected to spend $110.18 on food and candy.
Clothes and accessories will be popular gifts again this year, with 61 percent expecting to purchase them. Meanwhile, 59 percent will give gift cards, up from 56 percent last year. Nearly 45 percent of consumers will give books, music, movies or video games — the same as last year. Four in 10 consumers will give toys. 
“With an additional full shopping weekend this December, consumers will have plenty of time to browse and complete their holiday purchasing, whether it’s gifts for others or décor for their homes,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “Gift cards continue to be a popular low-risk option for gift givers, and this year we’re seeing food increase in favor as well. As Americans look to celebrate with even more of the special people in their lives, food serves as a great way to come together.”
And, in light of Giving Tuesday yesterday, 38 percent of consumers plan to donate money to a charity or cause, and 37 percent expect to donate items, including holiday meals for needy families. Of those donating, 80 percent said it would have no effect on their overall holiday spending.
Many consumers — 174 million, in fact -- didn’t wait to get started. They shopped the 5-day period between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday (Nov. 27), spending $335.47 per person, with $250.78 — 75 percent — specifically going toward gifts. The biggest spenders were older Millennials (25-34 years old) at $419.52.
“All the fundamentals were in place for consumers to take advantage of incredible deals and promotions retailers had to offer,” Shay said. “From good weather across the country to low unemployment and strong consumer confidence, the climate was right, literally and figuratively, for consumers to tackle their holiday shopping lists online and in stores.”
Technology played a big role in that, the NRF noted. More than 64 million shopped both online or in stores, while more than 58 million shopped only online and 51 million shopped only in stores. The multichannel shopper spent $82 more on average than the online-only shopper, and $49 more on average than those shoppers who only shopped in stores.
That makes a lot of sense, since the consumers who shop through different platforms are more likely to have specific items in mind and search for the best deal. In fact, among the consumers who shopped Thanksgiving weekend, 60 percent said the majority of their purchases were driven by sales.
I admire the consumers who had their lists and budgets together in time to take advantage of the prime shopping period. Unfortunately, that’s not me. There’s still plenty of time, right?
In any case, if you’re already done with shopping, or just getting started, Candy Industry wishes you a healthy, happy and prosperous holiday season!