Holiday Spending Plans Slightly Below Pre-pandemic High: Survey

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The spending plans of Americans in the upcoming holiday season in 2021 are roughly the same as last year reflecting continued demand, despite the ongoing supply chain disruption. Meanwhile, the plans are slightly below the pre-pandemic high, according to the National Retail Federation or NRF and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

As per an annual survey about winter holiday shopping plans, 90 percent of U.S. adults plan to celebrate the upcoming holidays, including Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, this year, up from 87 percent last year.

This year, consumers plan to spend $997.73 on gifts, holiday items and other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families, similar to last year's consumer spending. This is lower than $1,047.83 in 2019 as fewer consumers plan to spend on non-gift purchases.

Among the 7,921 holiday shoppers surveyed, the average spending plan is $648 for gifts this year, down from $650 in 2020, and $659 in 2019. Meanwhile, spending plans for non-gift holiday items such as food, candy, decorations and cards would be $231 on average, higher than last year's $230 and 2019's $227.

Nearly 49 percent plans to start browsing and buying before November, the highest in the survey's history, and higher than last year's 42 percent.

Around 47 percent intend to take advantage of discounts during the holiday season to make non-gift purchases with an expected spend an average of $118.41. In pre-pandemic 2019, 60 percent planned to make these types of purchases and expected to spend $162.02. The ongoing work from home situation during the pandemic has impacted gift plans for co-workers.

NRF, the world's largest retail trade association, noted that around 57 percent plan to purchase holiday items online this year, down from 60 percent in 2020 and in line with pre-pandemic norms. Other top holiday shopping destinations include department stores, discount stores, grocery stores and clothing/accessories stores. Meanwhile, around 24 percent of consumers plan to shop specifically at a local or small business.

Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said, "Over the last few years, consumers have demonstrated the desire to begin their holiday shopping earlier and earlier. 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."

Amid the ongoing supply chain challenges, 47 percent of holiday shoppers are concerned they will have difficulty finding items this year, mainly electronics, clothes and toys.

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