Q4 winter holidays are the #1 consumer spending event of the year //

Thanksgiving and the following weekend have typically been considered the official start of the holiday shopping season for the vast majority. However, this year it’s been noted that holiday shopping began as early as April and we’re expecting the first big surge on October 13 and 14th in response to Amazon’s rescheduled Prime Day.

Overall, holiday sales represent about 20 percent of annual retail sales each year, but the figure can be higher for some retailers. 

Consumer Insights

The National Retail Foundation (NRF) lists the winter holidays as #1 on their list of top consumer spending events. Here’s what they learned about consumer buying plans in 2019. (Their 2020 survey has not been conducted yet.)

How does it break down? Here are the top categories of purchases ranked by planned spending per person in 2019: 1. Gifts  2. Non-gift Purchases for Self or Family  3. Candy & Food  4. Decorations  5. Greeting Cards & Postage   6. Flowers

This year we are expecting consumer’s recent lifestyle changes to drive gift choices such as the recently discovered or rediscovered home based activities featured in this Criteo graphic. More key trends can be found in their report on holiday 2020.


According to historical NRF data, 39% of consumers start their holiday shopping in October or sooner with the majority staring in November when sales peak around Thankgiving.

This year consumers are starting earlier than ever with Pinterest reporting holiday related searches starting in April. “Why the shift? In the face of COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders, people are looking forward to looking forward. 2020 has been a hard year, and consumers are craving the comfort of the holidays. They want this season to feel more festive than ever before, and they’re asking for brands to help them get there.”

According to the NRF, Super Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas, has become the biggest shopping day of the year as consumers rush to take care of last minute gifts and take advantage of great deals.

From their 2019 survey, the NRF learned that 68 percent of holiday consumers will still be shopping the week after Christmas. “They plan to take advantage of post-holiday sales and promotions (49 percent) and use gift cards (27 percent). Younger consumers ages 18-24 are the most likely (84 percent) to shop the week after Christmas.”

Retail Promotions

Amazon Prime Day in mid October is expected to drive purchases on and off the site with competitors such as Target going head to head with the ecommerce giant.

Typically Thanksgiving and the following days are frenzy of instore and online shopping fueled by door busters and steep discounts. As a safety precaution due to the pandemic, Walmart Inc. was the first to announce they will close their stores on Thanksgiving Day 2020 with Target Corp., Dick’s Sporting Goods, Kohl’s, Ulta and Best Buy Co Inc. following suit. With online sales at an all time high, Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions are expected to deliver a historic surge in ecommerce sales this year. Learn more from Digital Commerce 360.

Small local stores have been relying on curbside pickup and limiting in store shoppers to keep their staff and customers safe. Small Business Saturday presents a great opportunity to activate shoppers with email and social media marketing.

Marketing Resources

Spark your promotional content and marketing materials with resources for the following holidays:




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