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Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Holiday Trends in Retail: Shoppers Spending & More Reasons for Good Cheer

By / October 2016


There are many reasons for good cheer during the all-important holiday shopping season. According to PwC’s 2016 Holiday Outlook released earlier this month, consumers are expected to spend an average of $1,121 each. That’s the highest dollar amount for holiday buying since the Great Recession.

“The great news for all retailers is consumers are much more optimistic this holiday season,” said Steven Barr, PwC’s U.S. retail & consumer leader. “They are expected to spend 10 percent more on gifts, travel and entertainment (compared to 2015 holiday spending).”

Other holiday shopping insights from PwC include:

  • People will be shopping for themselves – especially college-educated millennials who are expected to spend a third of their holiday budget on their personal gift lists.
  • Millennial parents are more optimistic about the economy, start shopping earlier and enjoy the holiday buying experience more than other shoppers (75 percent vs. 61 percent).
  • Holiday buyers will be more brand-conscious, with 80 percent of survey respondents indicating they will shop for established household names, local businesses, independent and new retailers. Nearly 75 percent of consumers plan to shop locally, while 56 percent will seek independent retailers.
  • It’s also the season of giving to charity. Holiday shoppers are expected to donate an average of $244 to their favorite causes, including health and social services, community development, animal welfare and disaster relief. Plus 75 percent of retailers said they will make charitable contributions. Consumers say they prefer retailers that are committed to social responsibility.
  • And let’s not forget pets! With almost half of all households owning pets, gifts for pets are popular during the holidays. Pet owners are likely to spend an average of $62. However, millennials are expected to outspend everyone at $81 in gifts for their animal companions.
  • Sixty percent of retailers responded to PwC’s holiday survey indicating they will provide free shipping and free returns due to customer demand. In addition, retailers will offer more options for online and instore ordering, delivery and pick-up to provide convenience, price, speed and variety.
  • Fast, easy and frictionless checkout – both instore and online – is another popular consumer request during the holidays. PwC predicts holiday shoppers will also want Wi-Fi access while they’re in the store to check product availability and prices, as well as knowledgeable sales staff to find products and explain features.

Technology Required for Retail Sales Success

Social Annex, a customer loyalty and advocate marketing solutions software, emphasized technology in its list of 2016 holiday retail trends. Social Annex stated, “The success of retailers during this holiday season will be tied up with the mechanism that focuses less on the transaction and more on the interaction.”

Spotlighting the technology upsurge, Social Annex quoted Brent Shrover, Listrak product development, “With the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation VR all available to consumers this holiday season, I’m excited to see virtual reality begin to make its way into the mainstream. My prediction is that 2017 will be the year that experimentation with VR will move beyond gaming and into other realms such as virtual social gatherings, data visualizations and even entirely new ways to experience ecommerce.”

Super Saturday Tops Black Friday

Of course the calendar has a major impact on holiday shopping, as well. Since Christmas is on Sunday, December 25 this year, RetailNext, an expert in IoT retail analytics, predicts the biggest holiday shopping day in terms of sales will be Friday, December 23. The busiest shopping day in terms of store traffic is expected to be December 17, which is being dubbed “Super Saturday.” Black Friday, November 25, the day after Thanksgiving, is predicted to be the third largest sales day this holiday season, behind the Friday before Christmas and Super Saturday.

RetailNext predicts the top holiday shopping days:

Top 10 Biggest Shopping Days (Sales)

  1. Friday, December 23
  2. Super Saturday, December 17
  3. Black Friday, November 25
  4. Thursday, December 22
  5. Wednesday, December 21
  6. Sunday, December 18
  7. Saturday, December 24
  8. Saturday, December 10
  9. Friday, December 16
  10. Saturday, December 3

Top 10 Busiest Shopping Days (Shopper Visits)

  1. Super Saturday, December 17
  2. Black Friday, November 25
  3. Friday, December 23
  4. Saturday, December 10
  5. Monday, December 26
  6. Sunday, December 18
  7. Saturday, December 24
  8. Thursday, December 22
  9. Wednesday, December 21
  10. Saturday, December 3

There are boundless opportunities for retailers this holiday season. By taking advantage of new technology and industry trends, as well as the predicted increase in consumer spending, retailers have many reasons to be of good cheer.

Tom O’Reilly – President and CEO, Aptaris. Tom has a deep understanding of the retail business from both the store and vendor perspectives. He brings decades of hands-on experience in advertising and promotions including new media innovations. As an entrepreneur, he has transformed each organization he has worked with. Tom is a forward-thinking leader with a history of driving innovation, growth and profitability. As an avid reader, Tom is always enthusiastically sharing cutting-edge ideas with clients and colleagues.


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