Latest Industry Surveys Point To Healthy Holiday Budgets

Schemata's handpainted ornaments, on Etsy 

The National Retail Federation and ICSC, formerly the International Council of Shopping Centers, both issued annual predictions for the coming quarter -- and it looks like there won’t be much skimping on Santa this year.

The National Retail Federation expects 92% of the U.S. population to celebrate somehow, whether it’s Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Consumers will spend about $875 on average, including gifts, decorations and food. That’s a 5% increase from last year’s $833. Of that, $875, about $620 will be gifts, with $255 budgeted for decorations, food and candy.

The survey, conducted for NRF by Prosper Insights & Analytics, shows spending aligns with the average holiday budget over the last five years.

The ICSC research anticipates a 3.8% increase from October to December, with an additional rise of 7.6% in food and beverage. Combined, that would lead to a seasonal shopping spree of $1.6 trillion.



About 80% of those in the ICSC sample say they expect to spend the same or more this holiday as they did in 2022, up from the 73% who said that last year.

It’s not that people ignore the negative headlines around the economy, and they are acutely aware that almost everything costs more.

“The consumer is mindful of how inflation has and is impacting the prices of goods, their economic position, and their spending,” says Stephanie Cegielski, ICSC’s vice president, research and public relations, in an email to Marketing Daily. “Despite various economic pressures across income levels, consumers are still planning to spend both in-store and online this holiday shopping season.”

Especially notable is the resilience of younger consumers, with Gen Z emerging as enthusiastic in-store shoppers. About 92% of Gen Z say they’ll do at least some holiday buying in person, compared to just 67% of baby boomers.

Cegielski says the survey also revealed an interesting disconnect. On one hand, survey respondents are shopping earlier than ever, spurred on by promotional events from companies like Amazon, Walmart and Target.

At the same time, they’re annoyed by the trend.

“Two-thirds of respondents think that holiday merchandise hits shelves too early and advertisement starts too soon,” she says. “They feel the season starting earlier and take advantage of those deals -- while simultaneously feeling that 'seasonal creep.’”

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