are almost here!
But while consumers are focused on shopping for gifts, stocking the pantry for festive feasts and getting into the spirit, retailers, advertisers and marketers face an array of questions around the holidays: When do we start our shopping? How are we getting into the spirit? Who's driving holiday spending? What are we planning to buy?
At Nielsen, we have our hands on the pulse of what people are watching and buying, and this year, we're sharing a bounty of insights with all of the trimmings—in one place. We're tracking how many Americans have begun their shopping and will update these numbers week-by-week as we get closer to the end of the year. Check back regularly for updates!
As of the week ending Sept. 23, 2015, the first week of our holiday tracking, 36% of Americans had started their holiday gift shopping. While the pace for shopping is slightly ahead of last year, Nielsen expects Americans’ holiday spending to be consistent with 2014, with a forecasted dollar sales increase of just 2.0%.
Many factors can affect when shoppers start seeking the perfect presents. Each week, we’ll break out holiday shopping by age, gender and income to help you get a clearer picture of who’s heading to the stores and logging online in the search for gifts.
Read more about this season's early shoppers.
Silver Screens and Silver Bells
What’s getting people to start their holiday shopping? The sights and sounds of the holidays play a key role in helping people feel festive.
Last year, 41% of respondents said they get into the holiday spirit by seeing holiday-themed movies. Among all U.S. homes, we've found that 90% tuned in to at least one minute of holiday primetime programming last year between Thanksgiving and the end of the year in 2014.
But even more spirit-inducing than TV programming are our favorite holiday hits. Nearly half of all respondents (49.5%) in a survey last year said hearing holiday music on the radio put them in the holiday spirit. And this love of holiday tunes plays a big role in listenership on the radio, as some formats switch over to an “all Christmas” format.
Top 10 On Demand Holiday Songs
Week of Dec. 21, 2015
|1||Mariah Carey||All I Want For Christmas Is You||Columbia||1994||8,194,567|
|2||Brenda Lee||Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree||Decca/MCA Nashville||1962||4,602,093|
|3||Pentatonix||Mary, Did You Know?||RCA||2014||3,987,388|
|4||Nat King Cole||The Christmas Song||Capitol||1949||3,693,334|
|5||Gene Autry||Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer||Columbia||1957||3,518,526|
|6||Dean Martin||Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow||Virgin||1959||3,444,288|
|8||Bobby Helms||Jingle Bell Rock||Decca/MCA Nashville||1962||3,086,802|
|9||Michael Bublé||It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas||143/Reprise/Warner Bros.||2011||2,837,900|
|10||Burl Ives||A Holly Jolly Christmas||Decca||1965||2,792,268|
|Source: Nielsen Music|
Splurging on the Holidays
While we expect overall holiday spending in the U.S. to remain relatively flat from last year, some consumers are spending more. “Gift splurgers”—those who say they like to shower their loved ones with gifts and consider themselves more of a spender than a saver—are 62 million strong in the U.S. and make up 26% of American adults.
These shoppers are enthusiastic and looking for the best: More than two-thirds say they’re willing to pay more for high-quality items, and almost 60% say they tend to make impulse purchases. They’re also heavy users of traditional media—including broadcast and cable TV and radio.
Download our latest Local Watch Report to learn more about these shoppers and their media habits.
Multicultural Consumers Plan to Buy Big
Multicultural holiday shoppers make up a significant portion—36%—of “gift splurgers” the U.S. And similar to last year, more multicultural households are planning to spend more on holiday gifts this year than the total population, though the percent who plan to spend more has dropped slightly year-over-year.
But while multicultural consumers are planning on spending more, more are planning to wait until later in the season to shop. In fact, this year, 72% of Asian-Americans, 68% of Hispanic Americans and 67% of African-Americans are planning to wait to start their holiday shopping, compared with 64% of total U.S. households.
A Digital December (and November and October)
Online retail should continue to grow even higher this season, as 75% of those who are holiday shopping this year plan on look for the perfect gift online. Multicultural shoppers not only plan to spend more on holiday shopping than all U.S. households, they’re more likely to plan to shop online. Millennials will also play a key role with digital holiday sales, as they’re more likely to say they plan to spend more online than any other generation.
But digital isn’t the only way we’re shopping...
Smartphones could be a key platform for these digital shoppers to find holiday deals, as well as content to keep them entertained throughout the season. In the third quarter of 2015, four-fifths of people in the U.S. reported having smartphones. And mobile ownership is up 8%, compared to third-quarter 2014.
But how are these mobile media users spending their time? As of October 2015, the most popular app categories, based on time spent per month, are search engines, portals, and social networking apps with 16 hours and two minutes, entertainment apps at 13 hours and 27 minutes and communication apps at 4 hours and 39 minutes.
Where to Shop? What to Buy?
Holiday Advertisers Spend Big
The holidays are a pricy investment for advertisers trying to reach these eager consumers. In 2013, advertisers spent nearly $2.5 billion across the tech, clothing, gaming, book, kitchen, sporting goods and jewelry segments, up from $2 billion five years ago. In fact, the pre-holiday months remain a crucial time for marketers—capturing the bulk of their ad spending for the year.
In 2013, pre-holiday advertising represented a little more than a third of all ad spend for the apparel, cookware and tech categories, but the big players in holiday are jewelry, video games and—you guessed it—toys.
Gift Cards Top Shoppers' Lists...But Toys Are On the Rise
This year, the top gifts categories include gift cards, tech products, toys and apparel. Gift cards appeal to all consumer segments. But as Millennials continue to get older and begin to start families, it’s not surprising that there’s been a significant increase in these shoppers planning to spending more for gift cards and toys over 2014. In fact, 42% of shoppers will be looking for toys on Black Friday, up from 34% in 2014.
In tech, new video games are eagerly awaited around the holidays, and last year, new gaming systems were also high on both kids and adults’ wish lists around the holidays. Check out this year’s most coveted gaming titles.