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Holiday spending reflects continued demand among American consumers

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New data shows how US consumers plan to spend $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year.

This is according to the annual survey released by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics and comes despite the continued supply chain disruption, this is on par with consumer spending last year.

Matthew Shay, CEO and NRF President, commented: “Every year retailers plan their seasonal inventory, staffing and product promotions well in advance for the busy holiday season.

“Consumers are ready to celebrate, and gift-giving is high on the list. The retail industry is working diligently with ports, labor, shippers and transportation providers as well as government officials to overcome supply chain challenges and make sure consumers have access to the gifts they want to give and, just as important, receive.”

This year, 90 percent of U.S. adults plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, up from 87 percent last year.

Similar to last year, consumers are prioritizing gifts for family and friends and purchases related to holiday celebrations such as food or décor.

Overall plans for holiday spending remain slightly below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83 in 2019, as fewer consumers plan to spend on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families.

While nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts during the holiday season to make non-gift purchases, they plan to spend an average of $118.41 on these items. In contrast, in 2019, 60 percent planned to make these types of purchases and expected to spend $162.02. As many continue to work from home, shoppers are also less inclined to purchase gifts for co-workers.

However, consumers are motivated to check items off their lists earlier than ever.

Half (49%) of holiday shoppers will start browsing and buying before November, up from 42 percent in 2020 and the highest in the survey’s history.

Among those shopping in October or earlier, 47 percent say they want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping and another 36 percent do not want to miss out on key holiday items.

The supply chain challenges that have been exacerbated since the beginning of the pandemic are top of mind for consumers.

Nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers are concerned they will have difficulty finding items this year. The top items they are worried about finding are electronics (44%), clothes (40%) and toys (28%).

Still, consumers continue to state a strong preference for online shopping.

Over half (57%) plan to purchase holiday items online this year, down from 60 percent who identified online as a holiday destination in 2020 and in line with pre-pandemic norms.

Other top holiday shopping destinations include department stores (47%), discount stores (44%), grocery stores (43%) and clothing/accessories stores (30%). One-quarter (24%) of consumers plan to shop specifically at a local or small business.

The survey asked 7,921 consumers about winter holiday shopping plans.

It was conducted October 1-10 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.1 percentage points.

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