Young American adults most likely to spend more this holiday season

Holiday shopping is in full swing and consumers still have a lot more spending to do as they check off every item on their holiday wish list, according to a new consumer sentiment survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“This holiday season retailers will experience the growing purchasing power of Gen Z and millennials,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Whether they are still in college or raising children, these consumer groups embrace the tradition of prior generations and take full advantage of Thanksgiving weekend deals both online and in stores.”

While 77 % of all consumers surveyed said they would spend the same or more this year, 43 % of young adults ages 18-24 and 38 percent of those 25-34 said they would spend more. Only 9 % of those 65 and older are planning to spend more.

“Americans continue to engage in holiday traditions like spending time with family and friends, exchanging gifts and cooking a special meal,” Prosper Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said. “But today those traditions include going online to research products and compare prices to make informed purchasing decisions.”

The survey found that 50 % of consumers who own smartphones or tablets said they would use them to research their holiday purchases.

Most Popular Holiday Gifts of 2018

Top gifts continue to be clothing and accessories, expected to be purchased by 59 % of consumers, gift cards (56 %), toys (41 %) and books/music/movies (40 %).

Spending on gift cards is on the rise and is expected to reach USD 29.9 billion, up from last year’s estimated USD 27.6 billion. Holiday shoppers plan to purchase an average of four gift cards worth approximately USD 49 each. The most popular gift cards include those for restaurants (purchased by 36 % of buyers), department stores (32 %), coffee shops (22 %) and entertainment (17 %).

For girls, Barbie tops the list of must-have toys for the fourth consecutive year, followed by other dolls and L.O.L. Surprise dolls. Other hot toys for girls include LEGOs, American Girl, Hatchimals and Disney Princess.

For boys, LEGOs are again at the top of the list, followed by cars and trucks and video games. Other top toys for boys include Hot Wheels, Marvel action figures/toys, Paw Patrol, Nerf and gaming systems like the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation and Xbox.

Holiday Payment Methods

Consumer payment methods for purchasing holiday gifts remain consistent with 2017. Credit cards continue to be the most popular form of payment, used by 42 % of shoppers. Debit cards are a close second, used by 39 %, while 17 % of consumers plan to pay with cash and 2 % will use checks. Forty-four percent of consumers plan to use emerging payment methods. Those methods include PayPal (35 %), Apple Pay (8 %), Samsung Pay and Google Wallet (tied at 5 %) and Venmo (4 %).

In addition to shopping, seven in 10 holiday shoppers plan to engage in charitable activities including donating money and items to a charity or cause. Of those donating, 78 % said it would have no effect on their overall holiday spending. Older generations are more likely to donate financially, while younger consumers lean more toward tangible donations.

The survey, which asked 7516 consumers about holiday shopping plans, was conducted October 29-November 7, 2018, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

Prosper Insights & Analytics is a global leader in consumer intent data serving the financial services, marketing technology, and retail industries. We provide global authoritative market information on U.S. and China consumers via curated insights and analytics. By integrating a variety of data including economic, behavioural and attitudinal data, Prosper helps companies accurately predict consumers’ future behaviour to help identify market behaviours, optimize marketing efforts, and improve the effectiveness of demand generation campaigns.

The U.S. National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs — 42 million working Americans. Contributing USD 2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.