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Consumers will spend hundreds this holiday season, mostly online

Published: October 27, 2015

Consumers will spend an average of $805.65 on food items, decorations, gifts and more over this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Consumer Spending Survey. This is the highest amount in the survey’s 14-year history and in line with last year’s $802.45.

The world’s largest retail trade association polled 7,276 consumers and found that almost 53 percent will shop online. Of those, 46.5 percent say they will take advantage of ‘buy online, pick up in store’ or ship-to-store options. Free shipping seems to be especially anticipated: 93.1 percent of online shoppers say they will use a free shipping offer when shopping for holiday merchandise.

The survey also found that 21.4 percent of smartphone owners will use their device to purchase holiday merchandise this year, the highest seen since NRF first asked in 2011. One in five (20.3%) will specifically use their smartphone to look up product availability in a store.

“We expect consumers will tackle their holiday shopping lists with a healthy dose of optimism, tempered by a hint of caution as they look for ways to find the perfect, practical gift,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We continue to see positive momentum in retail sales growth, giving us reason to believe consumers will show up this holiday season as they look to take advantage of all the retailers’ promotional offerings. In an effort to attract all shoppers—from the extremely price sensitive to the online millennial—retailers will be offering exclusive incentives, low prices, price-matching, top toys and everyone’s favorite—free shipping and ‘buy online, pick up in store’ offers.”

For the 14th year in a row, NRF’s holiday spending survey found that approximately 40 percent of holiday shoppers say they begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. 

Nearly three-quarters (73.1%) said sales or price discounts are a major factor in deciding where to do their holiday shopping. Additionally, 38 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds say that helpful, knowledgeable customer service is an important factor when it comes to deciding where to shop. Additionally, nearly six in 10 (58.8%) consumers say they would like to receive gift cards making this the ninth year in a row that gift cards have topped the list of most requested gift items.