Here’s How Much Consumers Plan to Spend this Holiday Season

Consumer spending is expected to be on par with previous years this holiday season, despite supply chain constraints and disruptions.
holiday shopping

Between gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases, consumers are expected to spend $997.73 over average this holiday season, according to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Prosper Insights & Analytics. A whopping 90% of U.S. adults plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa––up from 87% last year.

Overall spending is below the pre-pandemic high of $1,047.83 in 2019, with consumers planning to spend less on non-gift purchases for themselves and their families this year. Gifts for family and friends, as well as holiday-related purchases for celebrations, such as food and decor, are the top priorities in 2021.

The spending prediction comes as retailers are dealing with a crippled supply chain, characterized by shortages, labor crunches, delays and rising costs. Several major retailers, including Walmart and Target, have inched up sales earlier in the season to encourage consumers to shop early and spread out the demand.

More shoppers (49%) are planning to make their purchases earlier than previous years, browsing and buying before November. In fact, that’s the highest interest in shopping earlier in NRF’s survey’s history. Of those shopping in October, 47% said they want to avoid the stress of last-minute shopping, while 36% do not want to miss out on key holiday items.

“Over the last few years, consumers have demonstrated the desire to begin their holiday shopping earlier and earlier,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “This year in particular, as retailers promote holiday inventory, they are taking advantage of additional offerings, such as free shipping, buy online, pick up in store and even expedited shipping to ensure they receive their gifts on time.”

Nearly half (47%) of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of sales or price discounts to make non-gift purchases, spending an average of $118.41. That’s down from the $160.02 spent on these items in 2019, when 60% of shoppers planned to make these types of purchases. 

However, the supply chain issues are on the minds of consumers, with 47% worried they will have difficulty finding items this year, including electronics (44%), clothes (40%) and toys (28%). Despite issues, online shopping is expected to remain particularly strong, with 57% planning to make holiday purchases online this year. That’s down slightly from 60% last year, before COVID-19 vaccines were readily available.

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