A Treasure Trove Of Topical Trends

According to a new release from Marketing Charts, providing a roundup of holiday season research studies surrounding spending trends, retail destinations and shopping attitudes, the NRF is projecting a 3.6% increase in sales this year (above the 10-year rolling average of 2.5%, though down very slightly from last year’s 3.7% forecast increase) to $655.8 billion. This article highlights key points from holiday-related research

Before getting to the list of highlights from the body of research that’s been released to-date, says the report, broad forecasts for this holiday season say:

  • The NRF’s forecast increase is at the bottom of the range expected by Deloitte, of a 3.6-4% increase (with e-commerce up 15-17%)
  • Kantar Media is predicting a topline retail sales increase of 3.8% during Q4, up from the 3.4% growth during Q4 of 2015
  • Brand Keys is on the lower end of that range, anticipating a 3.5% increase in holiday spending
  • The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) has a slightly lower forecast, of a 3.3% rise in holiday sales
  • eMarketer agrees with the ICSC, predicting a 3.3% increase in retail holiday season sales, including a 17.2% increase for e-commerce sales
  • RetailNext forecasts a modest 3.2% lift in sales
  • CMOs, responding to a BDO USA survey, are expecting a 4.7% increase in overall holiday store sales, tied with 2012 as the highest projection in the survey’s history, which dates back to 2008.



US Holiday Related Spending Forecasts (Average/Person)


Average Spend/Person











Data Source: NRF/Prosper, November 2016

The following list highlights key points from the studies cited above, says the Marketing Charts report. Broadly speaking, the report notes that mobile and digital will likely play a greater role in this holiday season than last, and that consumers will be shopping for discounts and promotions.

  • Print circulars will have the biggest influence of any promotions on shopping destinations, per a survey from Market Track, which also finds almost 1 in 5 (18%) planning to make purchases directly from social media sites
  • More than 3 in 4 consumers feel that ads received by mail will have at least some influence on their shopping decisions this holiday season, according to Epsilon. This influence seems to pertain to their perception that direct mail will usually contain an offer or discount
  • Research from Fluent similarly finds that direct mail will be the most important channel in determining where consumers shop, ahead of print and TV advertising
  • Deals (69%) and convenience (65%) are consumers’ determining factors when deciding whether to shop online or in-store, per RadiumOne
  • Almost 6 in 10 holiday shoppers are persuaded to purchase gifts online by reading articles on products or gift guides, says Yahoo Advertising, and are more value than price-driven
  • According to RJ Metrics, the average e-commerce business acquires 23.8% of its new customers during the holiday season (Nov-Dec), but holiday customers have a customer lifetime value that’s 13% lower than non-holiday customers
  • AdGooroo believes that the retail category will see a double-digit increase in paid search advertising spending this holiday season, with December being the top month for retail paid search ad spend
  • When it comes to the in-store experience, ease of checkout (56%) is consumers’ top priority, followed by easy access to in-store WiFi (37%) and product availability (35%), per a PwC report
  • A majority of holiday shoppers feel that the best deals are found online, per Synchrony Financial research.
  • Shopping networks such as Amazon and eBay (65%) are the top source for online holiday shopping, says American Express, with superstores such as Target and Walmart (48%) not quite as popular
  • details survey results indicating that Amazon (57.4%) beats Walmart (33.2%) and others (9.4%) as the top destination for holiday shopping
  • Friday December 23rd will be the biggest day in terms of store sales, predicts RetailNext, while the busiest shopping day for store traffic is projected to be Super Saturday, December 17th.
  • ShopperTrak expects Black Friday to be the busiest shopping day, followed by Monday December 26th and Friday December 23rd
  • Black Friday and Cyber Monday are moving in opposite directions in public perception, says RichRelevance: respondents are about 4 times more likely to say that Black Friday’s importance has receded than grown (42% vs. 11%) over the past 5 years, while one-third say that Cyber Monday is more important than it was then
  • Also, results suggest that Americans (particularly Millennials) are becoming more accepting of Christmas Creep, though a majority are on board with retailers who decide to close stores on Thanksgiving and are more likely to shop with those retailers.
  • A study from Periscope By McKinsey shows that 31% of US respondents have always disliked shopping on Black Friday and 29% believe it’s just a marketing trick
  • Cyber Monday is poised to become the “largest online shopping day in history,” says Adobe Digital Insights, while Black Friday will also reach new heights for sales. Separately, consumers surveyed believe that emails directly from retailers (22%) are the best source of online shopping deals and bargains during the holidays
  • 30 major brands, including Amazon, Target and Nordstrom, saw higher engagement rates last year on Green Monday than on Cyber Monday, according to Yes Lifecycle Marketing
  • Clothing (50%), gift cards or gift certificates (48%) and electronics (36%) are the most popular planned gift purchases this holiday season, per Deloitte, though these results tend to vary by survey, says the report.

Wrapping up, the report notes that the Consumer Technology Association expects this season to be a record-breaking one for tech, in that more consumers than ever plan tech gifts, and Hitwise by Connexity has a list of hot holiday products moving into November based on search behavior

Finally, Deloitte finds that almost 3 in 4 consumers are willing to shop new and/or different stores or online retailers, most commonly local stores and businesses (66%) and new websites they’ve not visited before (52%). Accenture survey data indicates that 72% of shoppers would be enticed by promotions or coupons to shop at a store they haven’t used in the past year. On a similar note, research from Criteo indicates that 7 in 10 Millennials are open to considering new retail apps during the holidays that they haven’t used before.

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