US Holiday Shopping Statistics 2021

Check out the latest trends, statistics, and insights on holiday shopping in the U.S.

The biggest consumer sales season of the year is here! Consumers are excited about deals on hot-trending products. Retailers are hopeful for healthy 2021 holiday season sales growth. The fourth quarter of the fiscal year is critical to a Retailer’s bottom line. Holiday shopping can account for up to 30 percent of a retailer’s annual sales.

In 2020, Retailers struggled amid a pandemic-driven consumer economy. According to eMarketer, The 2020 holiday season’s unprecedented eCommerce surge helped total US retail spending remain positive. What can last year’s holiday shopping statistics tell us about what’s in store for 2021 holiday shopping season?

In 2020, the pandemic disrupted traditional holiday shopping methods. Many retailers started sales as early as October and kept stores shut on Thanksgiving Day. They put more deals online and expanded contactless options, such as curbside pickup, to reduce the number of shoppers crowded in stores.

Quick Key Facts and Trends of Holiday Shopping in the US

  • In 2020, holiday shopping made up 19.5% of total annual retail income.

  • In 2021, experts predict that online retail sales will make up 25.5% of total retail sales.

  • Shoppers started holiday shopping as early as October. By Black Friday, 29% of consumers have completed a significant portion of their holiday shopping.

  • In 2021, More than 51% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving.

  • 83% of shoppers said in recent surveys that convenience is even more important now than five years ago.

Which Holiday Has the Most Sales in the US?

HOLIDAY  2019 ($Billion) 2020 ($ Billion)
Valentine’s Day 20.7 27.4
Easter 18.1 21.7
Mother’s Day 25.0 28.1
Father’s Day 16.0 17.0
July 4th 6.7 6.5
Labor Day 26.2 33.9
Halloween 8.8 8.0
Thanksgiving 4.2 5.1
Christmas 718.6 777.3

Source: National Retail Federation.

Christmas Is by Far the Biggest Holiday in The USA in Terms of Sales

How Much Do Sales Increase During the Holidays as Compared to Normal Days?

Many people start their holiday shopping in October. Retail giants like Walmart, Best Buy, and others often promote their deals before Halloween until Thanksgiving. It creates a cascading effect and has become a holiday trend.

Holiday sales, on average, have increased 3.5% for the past five years, and they rose 4% in 2019, according to the National Retail Federation. Holiday retail sales rose 8.3% in 2020, according to data released by the National Retail Federation.

In 2021, More than 51% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving, according to an NPD Group study. Holiday shopping sales are projected to hit $859 billion, an increase of 10.5% over 2020.

Holiday retail sales are projected to rise

Where Are Most People Doing Their Shopping?

The number of people shopping online is rising. In 2021, some 2.14 billion people worldwide are predicted to by something online. Over 57% of U.S. shoppers plan to buy holiday items online.

Mobile Shopping Is Forecast to Account For Almost Three-Fourths of Ecommerce

In 2021, mobile eCommerce will account for 72.9% of global eCommerce. According to eMarketer, mobile online shopping grew 41.4% in 2020 and should reach 15.2% in 2021 to account for $359.3 billion in the US. Annual sales should nearly double by 2025.

mobile shopping

More Than 50% Of Internet Users Aged 18 to 34 Have Purchased via Social Media

39% of 18- to 34-year-olds have purchased through social media, and 15% more do so regularly. In total, 35% of US adults report having purchased through social media. 60% of those 55 and older report having no interest in shopping via social media.

social media

In-Store vs. Online: Which Option Do Consumers Prefer During the Busy Holiday Shopping Season?

According to Statista, more than 263 million Americans shop online, or 80% of the population. This number is predicted to climb to 291.2 million by 2025.

online vs in-store shopping

When Does Holiday Shopping Begin?

Holiday shopping statistics from a 2020 survey revealed that 38% of Americans plan to start their seasonal shopping as early as October. However, several people shop in stages to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday bargains. Traditionally, 75 % of shoppers wait to buy gifts until the last hour before preceding Christmas.

2021 will likely buck tradition as shoppers worry about inventory shortages and shipping delays due to port backlogs and cargo crises. In a recent survey, 43% of respondents said they planned to start holiday shopping before the end of October, 25% planned to start before Thanksgiving. Only 12% planned to wait until December to do their holiday shopping.

How Are Holiday Shoppers Receiving Their Purchases?

In prior years, holiday shoppers would prefer to pay extra to get their orders delivered faster. However, according to Deloitte’s 2020 survey, 85% of shoppers said free shipping is now their top priority. More than half 53.5% said they wouldn’t pay extra for expedited shipping.

2021 2020 2019
Standard Delivery 73% 73% 62%
Same Day or Next Day Direct Delivery from Retailer 47% 43% 43%
By Online, Pick Up in Store 33% 35% 34%
Curbside Pick Up 21% 27% 11%
Bulk Shipping 16% 20% 13%
Same Day or Next Day from Delivery Service 11% 15% 17%

Source: National Retail Federation.

In 2020, the U.S. click and collect sales exceeded $58 billion. Click and collect, also known as buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS), is rising in popularity, with over nine out of 10 shoppers deeming the option convenient. BOPIS allows consumers to browse and compare products from the comfort of their homes and pick up the product immediately without having to wait or pay for shipping. eMarketer reported click and collect sales in the U.S. is predicted to reach $74.24 billion by 2022.

How Much Does the Average American Spend During the Holidays?

In 2019, average US holiday spending came to $1,536 for every household, as per eMarketer.

In 2020, average holiday spending declined to an average of $1,387 as consumers sheltered in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consumers plan to spend an average of $1,463 in the 2021 Holiday shopping season, according to the Deloitte 2021 Holiday retail survey, reflecting relaxing health and safety fears.

Which Payment Method Do Consumers Prefer to Use for Holiday Shopping?

Credit Cards Are Expected to Continue to Be the Go-to Payment of Choice.

42% of total 2021 holiday spending is expected to be financed using credit cards, versus 38% in 2020.

shopping with credit card

Digital Wallet Payments Are Almost as Popular as Credit Cards

Digital payments are forecast to reach $6.6 trillion in 2021, with 29% of Statista survey respondents stating they would like to pay using their smartphones all the time.

Paying with digital wallet

Young Consumers Want Buy Now, Pay Later Finance Options.

Solutions that allow customers to buy now and pay later and offer monthly installment plans help increase online shopping sales. 87% of consumers ages 22-44 are interested in monthly payment plans.

Buy Now Pay Later

What Is Holiday Shoppers’ Payment Method of Choice?

The National Retail Federation reported 49% of all consumers plan to use an alternative form of payment such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Venmo for their holiday shopping.

Shopify reported that the number of merchants accepting contactless payments through their software increased by 122% during the 2020 pandemic.

What Drives Online Sales During the Holidays?

  • A hassle-free shopping experience is a primary reason consumers shop online. 60% cited direct home delivery as a good reason to buy an item online.
  • Lower prices, round-the-clock availability, and a more extensive product range also top the list.
  • Free delivery is the leading incentive to drive purchases online.
  • In 2020, 53% of consumers said that a free delivery option would increase their purchasing of products online.
  • A notable 35% also cited reviews from other customers and easy returns policies.

What Items Do People Buy the Most During Holiday Shopping?

During Black Friday 2020, the best-selling toys were Star Wars items, Hot Wheels, Nerf toys, and video games, including Super Mario 3D All-Stars, Madden NFL 2 ,and NBA 2k21. Apple Air Pods, air fryers, and Amazon Fire TV were the top sellers in the electronics category

According to Adobe Analytics, Toys and personal care products were among the most active categories for spending in 2020. Online TOY spending shot up 294% and personal care products rose to 278%. Office supplies and bedding grew by 114% and 109%, respectively.

In 2021, thus far, the top items shoppers are worried about finding are electronics (44%), clothes (40%), and toys (28%).

According to Deloitte’s 2021 Holiday Retail survey, Clothing and Accessories are expected to take the largest share of holiday spending at 22%, followed by electronics at 14%, gift cards at 17%, food and beverages 14%, Toys and hobbies 13%, home and kitchen 8%, Health and Wellness 8%, and Pet 5%.

2021 Holiday Retail Survey

Many of the holiday shopping trends that started with the Pandemic in 2020 will carry forward into 2021. Online shopping is expected to take a larger share of overall retail sales. Digital and contactless payments will be more in demand, so shoppers do not have to handle cash and personalize the payment experience.

However, 2021 Holiday Shoppers will start their holiday shopping much earlier this year as fears of shipping delays and inventory stockouts send shoppers back into brick-and-mortar stores and online searching for bargains. This year, Retailers need to be prepared to offer Convenience and Options to win over shoppers.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Shoppers want fast and convenient ordering, product selection, checkout experience, and delivery. Here are four ways to provide it:

Provide a convenient, fast shopping experience to please shoppers in 2021’s Holiday Shopping Season.

Holiday shoppers are not interested in waiting in long lines for a 24-hour sale. They are looking for sale prices throughout the November-December holiday shopping period.

Don’t expect shoppers to page through a website, join an email list, or click through several pages of registration at checkout to purchase items. One-click payments are fast and convenient and increase the customer shopping experience.

Offer various flexible and quick purchase options that cater to how shoppers want to pay for their purchases.

While credit cards and debit cards make up 67% of payment methods, more and more consumers opt for mobile and contactless payments using digital or mobile wallets like Google Wallet, PayPal, Apple Pay, Venmo, Cash App, and others. It will be difficult for retailers and small businesses to offer payment processing for credit cards, debit cards, online, and contactless payments without a merchant account

Provide free or low-cost delivery options.

BOPIS and curbside pickup is a customer favorite because it offers the convenience of online shopping and the gratification of bringing an in-store purchase home the same day.

Latest tech POS systems are the way to go

Retailers and small businesses are adopting newer POS systems with order fulfillment capabilities built-in, plus additional sales tools that help level the playing field with larger companies.

Cloud-based POS technology allows businesses to access POS software and all its data from any compatible device at any time.

mPOS systems allow retail associates to use cloud POS options to meet customers where they are and make sales on the floor. mPOS also allows businesses to sell at events like pop-ups, temporary markets, and trade shows. mPOS facilitates restaurant tableside ordering and payments.

POS technology allows small businesses to accommodate complex buying behaviors, letting them compete with larger companies with bigger budgets.

Finical is one of the leading credit card processing company that offers all the must-have features to help your business capitalize on sales this holiday season. Whether through virtual payment terminals, mobile payment terminals, gift cards, and more, Finical offers customized solutions and transparent, affordable fees.

You’ll also have access to support 24/7 and never have to pay setup costs. Finical has perks like cash advances, a merchant cash discount program, free equipment, professional product training, and more!

Wouldn’t Finical be a good fit for your business this holiday season? Get in touch for a free consultation to learn more about how Finical can boost your revenues.

Data Sources

Deloitte. (2020). 2020 Deloitte holiday retail survey: Reimagining traditions. Deloitte.

Repko, M. (2021, January 15). Holiday sales rose stronger-than-expected 8.3% as consumers bought gifts to lighten mood during pandemic. CNBC

Thomas, L. (2020, July 27) Target joins Walmart in staying closed for Thanksgiving this year. CNBC

Ahmed, N (2021, June 16) Ecommerce Holiday Spending Statistics, Trends and Insights 2020. Cloudways

Young. J (2021, October 18) Online Holiday Sales to grow 12% in 2021, DC360 projects. Digital Commerce 360

MentalFloss (2021) 15 Shocking Facts About Holiday Shopping. MentalFloss

Lipsman, A. (2021, Feb. 17) US Holiday 2020 Review and Holiday 2021 Preview. eMarketer

National Retail Federation (2020, Jan. 9) Convenience and the Consumer. NRF

National Retail Federation (2021 ) Retail Insights and Trends: Holiday and Seasonal Trends. NRF

National Retail Federation (2021, October 21) Holiday Spending Reflects Continued Consumer Demand. NRF.

Amick, B (2021, Oct. 4) Consumer Spending insights for 2021 holiday season. Bake Magazine

Statista. (2021) Number of digital buyers worldwide from 2014 to 2021. Statista

Statista. (2021) When Consumers are most likely to begin holiday shopping in the United State as of September 2021. Statista

Wurmser, Y. (2021, Aug. 4) Mcommerce Forecast 2021. eMarketer

eMarketer (2020, October 5) How Interested Are US Adults in Social Media Shopping? eMarketer

Deloitte (2021) 2021 Deloitte Holiday retail survey findings. Deloitte

Djordjevic, M. (2021, Oct. 25) 26 Fascinating Holiday Shopping Statistics You Should Know in 2021. SavemyCent.

Kats, R (2020, May 21) Click-And-Collect Sales Will Jump 60% As Demand for Frictionless Commerce Accelerates. eMarketer

Lipsman, A (2019, Oct. 28) Holiday Shopping 2019. eMarketer

Payments (2020, April 29) Buy Now Pay Later: Using Payments to Keep Workwear Affordable for the Essential Workforce. PYMNTS

Shopify (2021) Future of Commerce. Shopify

Global Web Index (2020) Commerce Flagship Report. GWI

Repko, M (2020, Nov 27) Black Friday online shopping on track to hit record as holiday shoppers skip stores, Adobe says. CNBC

Aviso, A (2021, October 19) 41 Online Shopping Statistics Retailers Should know in 2022. Fitssmallbusiness