Holiday Spending in the U.S.: Spending on Gifts and Charity

  • January 2008
  • -
  • Packaged Facts


Table of Contents

Data Series

Americans love to celebrate and holidays create a reason to rejoice and reflect and spend time with loved ones. Along the way, an estimated $133.6 billion will be spent on festivities in 2008, across the six largest holiday spending occasions. While Americans love to spend all year round, holidays give people a reason to shop and to celebrate. For many shoppers, the Winter Holidays represent their major annual spree and in 2008 it is estimated that 58% of holiday spending dollars will be attributed to Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanza.

Holiday Spending in the U.S. covers spending for Winter Holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza) Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Halloween. Trends in consumer spending and gift giving are discussed throughout this report, and for that reason, non-gift giving occasions such as Thanksgiving and July Fourth are excluded, whereas Halloween, because of its marked growth in popularity and consumer spending, is included.

Because they are a reflection of how Americans choose to spend their money in terms of broader causes, contributions to charity are also reviewed.

Sources and Methodology

Holiday spending estimates were compiled from more than 10 sources that released holiday spending projections. These include the Conference Board, the International Council of Shopping Centers, BIGresearch, and the Consumer Electronics Association. These sources were benchmarked against each other, and compared to retail sales during the holiday periods under review.

What You’ll Get in this Report

What’s Covered

  • Holiday spending figures for gifts and other spending (décor, food candy, cards, plants and flowers) are quantified by holiday for 2004-2008. Spending figures are made up of three components, the number of households, the percentage of households participating, and the average expenditure per household.

  • Key drivers in holiday spending, the role of economic conditions in participation and retail spending

  • Trends in spending by holiday are identified for each holiday. Holiday spending by channel is trended for major retail channels, including department stores, discount department stores, grocery stores, drug stores, warehouse and club stores, toy specialty stores, and specialty electronics retailers. A comprehensive review of the online channel is also provided.

  • The holiday spending consumer is analyzed; who spends the most and who is the most generous. The role of the economy in consumer indecision and procrastination is revealed as are tips for the retail channel to adapt to the shrinking window for Winter Holiday shopping.

  • A review of trends in retail formats is provided, from traditional malls, to lifestyle centers, kiosks and automated stores.

  • Where the market is going, forecasts for holiday spending through 2012 by year and by holiday. ``Green marketing,” pet indulgence, personalized gifts and gifts of experience trends are also explored.

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