Winter Holidays

pinecones and other holiday themed items

Winter Holidays

NRF’s holiday surveys gauge consumer sentiment and shopping trends during the winter holiday season, including Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday and Christmas.

two girls are looking at their holiday gifts during the holiday season
December survey: Procrastinators rush to meet holiday deadline

More than 40 percent of holiday shoppers surveyed expect to finish their holiday gift shopping by December 19, but the biggest procrastinators will still be buying gifts through Christmas Eve.

Thanksgiving outcome: Multichannel shopping up 40 percent

More than 165 million Americans shopped either in stores or online from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday.

large group of people are seen shopping on black friday
Family holiday shopping in the snow
Holiday Special: Thanksgiving weekend and beyond

Episode 89 of Retail Gets Real podcast: What retailers saw between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday and what it means for the 2018 holiday season.


Holiday podcasts

Last-minute holiday shopping
a lady is holding a christmas present in front of a christmas tree during the holiday season
Episode 94 of Retail Gets Real: Who's still shopping and when.
Gift trends for the holidays
Girls opening gifts
Episode 90 of Retail Gets Real: Discover the most popular gifts purchased over Thanksgiving weekend.
‘Tis the giving season
Two hands taking donated food
Episode 92 of Retail Gets Real: How people are giving back to the community this holiday season.
November survey: Young adults likely to spend more

Young adults are most likely to spend more this holiday. Top gifts continue to be clothing and accessories, and Barbie and LEGO top the list of most popular toys.

Girl at holiday market
Women shopping for holidays
Thanksgiving forecast: More than 164 million consumers plan to shop

Black Friday will remain the busiest day with 71 percent planning to shop.

October survey: Consumers will spend 4.1 percent more

Consumers say they will spend an average $1,007.24 during the holiday season this year, up 4.1 percent from the $967.13 last year. 

three women are walking at an outdoor shopping center with shopping bags
Hundreds of people shop at a busy outdoor mall during the holiday season
5 things to know about discounts this holiday season

Consumers are hit with a barrage of sales and marketing messages around the holidays, but how do they behave when it comes to sales and promotions? 

Holiday forecast 2018

NRF expects holiday retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent over 2017 for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion.

A blue door with a holiday wreath hanging
Did you know?

The term “Cyber Monday” was coined by NRF for the Monday after Thanksgiving, which is seen by many retailers, shoppers and the media as the official kickoff to the online holiday shopping season.

Holiday FAQs

Have questions? We’ve got answers.


Historical highlights


Holiday sales during November and December 2017 increased 5.5 percent over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion as growing wages, stronger employment and higher confidence led consumers to spend more than had been expected. The results exceeded NRF’s forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion. December alone was up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November and up 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. From Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday weekend. The most popular day for in-store shopping was Black Friday, cited by 77 million consumers, followed by Small Business Saturday with 55 million consumers. 

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The 2016 Holiday season was full of surprises. The start of the season coincided with the U.S. presidential election and consumers seemed initially cautious about their spending plans. However, once the election had passed, shoppers fully embraced the holiday spirit. Total holiday retail sales during November and December increased 4 percent over 2015, exceeding NRF’s initial forecast of $655.8 billion. For the second year in a row, Barbie topped the toy list for girls while Legos continued to lead the list for boys. In addition to spending on gifts for friends, family members and co-workers, consumers also use the season to pick up non-gift items. Nearly two-thirds of consumers planned to take advantage of the 2016 holiday sales to splurge on something extra for themselves or their families.

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The 2015 holiday season provided tough obstacles for the retail industry including weather and inventory challenges. Average spending per person during the holiday season was over $800 for the second year in a row, with more than half of shoppers splurging on non-gift items for themselves. Barbie was back in the number one spot on the Top Toys list after falling behind Disney’s Frozen in 2014, following an 11-year reign.

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