Shoppers may dream of a white Christmas, but this holiday season will have retailers seeing green — and lots of it, according to new data from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insight & Analytics.
The retail trade association expects shoppers to drop between $717.5 billion and $720.9 billion in November and December, up just over 4 percent from 2017’s total of $687.87 billion. 
However, that growth rate is below last year’s 5.3 percent, which represented the highest growth rate since the end of the Great Recession in 2010.
“Our forecast reflects the overall strength of the industry,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo. “Thanks to a healthy economy and strong consumer confidence, we believe that this holiday season will continue to reflect the growth we’ve seen over the past year. While there is concern about the impacts of an escalating trade war, we are optimistic that the pace of economic activity will continue to increase through the end of the year.” 
Shoppers said they expected to spend an average of $1,007.24 this holiday season, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 they said they would spend last year. The bulk of that — $637.67 — will go toward gifts, while $215.04 will go toward food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards. Another $154.53 will go toward non-gift purchases that take advantage of the deals and promotions throughout the season.
Holiday shoppers also plan to spread their purchases across multiple channels. More than half of consumers (55 percent) will shop online and in department stores, while 51 percent will go to discount stores, 44 percent to grocery stores, 33 percent to clothing stores and 24 percent to electronics stores. Half of those shopping online saying they will pick up their purchases in-store.
For the 12th year, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 60 percent of those surveyed. Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $29.9 billion, up from last year’s estimated $27.6 billion. On average, shoppers plan to purchase four gift cards, each worth approximately $49.
That’s followed by clothing and accessories at 53 percent; books, movies and music at 37 percent; electronics at 29 percent; home décor at 23 percent; jewelry at 22 percent; personal care or beauty items at 19 percent; sporting goods at 18 percent; and home improvement items at 17 percent.
And what about the World Series of holiday shopping: the weekend after Thanksgiving? 
The NRF says 165 million Americans were expected to shop between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, spending an average of $313.29 on gifts and other holiday items. The biggest spenders during this period were older Millennials and Gen Xers (35-44 years old) at $413.05.
“This year’s research clearly shows that the investments made by retailers are paying off in a big way,” Shay said. “Over the last couple of days, what I heard in discussions with retail ceos across all categories and segments was very positive, driven by macro conditions of low unemployment and rising wages combined with the right mix of merchandise at great prices. This is a very strong emotional start to the holiday season and a positive indicator of where we are headed over the next month.”
Props to the millions of Americans who had their lists and budgets in order to capitalize on the deals. I can’t say I’m that organized, but at least December hasn’t started yet.
Retail workers in all categories also deserve some love during this busy time. Without them, none of this major spending would be possible. 
Whether you’re a shopper, retailer or manufacturer, Candy Industry wishes you a healthy, happy and prosperous holiday season!