Holiday Shoppers Are in Better Spirits this Year

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November 13, 2014 by Lisa Brammer

The Conference Board by Nielsen (think television ratings) conducted a Holiday Spending Survey in October 2014. According to the study, U.S. households plan to spend slightly more ($538) this holiday season than last year ($528). 60 percent of consumers said they plan to spend about the same as they did last year. 8 percent said they plan to spend more and 32 percent plan to spend less.

“The recent improvements in consumer confidence—along with robust job growth and declines in gas prices—have consumers approaching the holiday season in better spirits than last year,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at the Conference Board. “However, despite the improved holiday cheer, consumers will once again seek out bargains and incentives when making their purchases.”

About one-third of respondents say they anticipate more than 50 percent of their purchases will be on sale or discounted. According to the survey, more people will be shopping from the comfort of their own homes. Almost 70 percent said they plan to do at least some holiday shopping online and 25 percent said they will purchase more than half of their presents online.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) also recently announced their 2014 forecast for holiday spending which calls for a retail sales increase of 4.1 percent for a total of $616.9 billion.

The NRF defines holiday sales as those happening from November 1-December 31st. In their prediction, they include all retail sales except for car dealers, gas stations and restaurants which is consistent with the retail tracking they do throughout the year. I guess they don’t think many of us will have a new car under our tree this year.

When making their prediction, they take many factors into account: employment, income, consumer confidence, consumer credit, and additional issues that might come up—like last year’s federal government shutdown, or severe winter weather.

Here is their 2014 forecast: In the grand scheme of things, consumers appear to be in a much better position this year than last, with a bit more confidence and spending power. These factors should translate into a solid holiday sales season for retailer and merchants alike. Nevertheless, shoppers will remain cautious and stick to their budgets this year—just in case we’re wrong.

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