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How Much Americans Splurge During Holiday Season?

The fall marks the onset of the winter holiday shopping season for numerous consumers.

Shoppers persistently seek the ideal, heartfelt gifts for everyone on their lists. From the shopping rushes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to eleventh-hour sales right before the actual holidays, the commercialization of holidays significantly influences the average American's expenditure across Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa. Amidst gifts, celebrations, adornments, and surging inflation, the American holiday season is witnessing increased costs. 

Here, we present an overview of the average expenses incurred during the American holiday season.  

Average Cost of American Holiday Spending

Despite economic challenges like inflation, recent Mastercard data highlights resilient holiday spending. US retail sales, excluding automotive sales, surged by 3.1 percent compared to last year, emphasizing the enduring holiday spirit. 

The research revealed online shopping soared with a 6.3 percent increase, while in-store purchases grew modestly by 2.2 percent. The apparel sector saw a 2.4 percent rise as shoppers prepared for festive occasions like office parties and New Year's Eve gatherings. 

Culinary traditions were evident, with restaurant sales spiking by 7.8 percent and grocery sales by 2.1 percent. The data reflects consumer determination to embrace the holiday spirit despite economic uncertainties, showcasing a blend of traditional celebrations and evolving shopping habits.

Expanding on this data, Adobe Analytics uncovered that U.S. citizens expended 222.1 billion dollars between November 1 and December 31, 2023, signifying a 4.9 percent increase from the prior year. 

This rise stemmed partially from substantial price reductions across diverse sectors, such as electronics, toys, and clothing, and a considerable surge in adopting versatile Buy Now, Pay Later payment alternatives. Mobile purchases constituted 51.1 percent of online transactions, surpassing desktop purchases for the inaugural time.

What's the typical holiday season expenditure on travel?

Holiday spending isn't just about gifts; travel plays a significant role, too.

Per the 2023 Deloitte survey, almost half of Americans plan a holiday trip (Thanksgiving to mid-January). Most prefer paid lodging over staying with family, budgeting around $2,725 for all travel expenses.

Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers split evenly in holiday travel, comprising about a third. Gen Z accounts for only 8% of travelers.

Reuniting with loved ones remains the primary motive for holiday travel across all age groups.

How much holiday spending occurs on the internet?

E-commerce retail sales surged during the pandemic and have sustained higher levels than before. Quarterly Census Bureau data reveals a parallel trend in holiday spending (Q4). 

In 2019, online sales accounted for about 15 percent of retail non-automobile spending. By 2020, this figure exceeded 20 percent, maintaining similar levels in 2021 and 2022. 

What's the average holiday season spending on gifts?

The National Retail Federation says holiday shoppers plan to spend around $822, with $620 allocated to gifts. Most shoppers (62 percent) finish shopping in December, despite 43 percent starting before November. 

Historical data indicates consistent increases in holiday spending over the past two decades, with an expected 3%-4% increase this year, totaling between $957.3 billion and $966.6 billion. With such spending projections, it's unsurprising that 75 percent of consumers seek deals, and 72 percent anticipate deals before Black Friday.

Future Outlook

Holiday spending in the United States has consistently been rising since 2010. We expect continued growth this year as well. Mobile shopping and social media are becoming dominant retail channels. The integration of AI assistants and the popularity surge of “buy now, pay later” options are anticipated trends. However, the extent of consumer spending will be determined after the holiday season. Stay updated for more insights.

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