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    Consumer Spending Trends: How Much Will Holiday Shoppers Spend This Year?

    June 25, 2024
    7 minute read
    Consumer Spending Trends: How Much Will Holiday Shoppers Spend This Year?

    2023 saw strong consumer holiday spending. As noted by the National Retail Federation, retail sales in the U.S. hit a record-high $964.4 billion last year. Worldwide ecommerce sales also rose in 2023, with shoppers spending $1.17 trillion worldwide online — in Cyber Week 2023 alone, consumers spent more than $298 billion.

    With the 2024 holiday shopping season just months away, it’s worth asking the big questions: How much are buyers planning to spend this year? What trends will influence buying behavior, and what can brands do to stay ahead?

    Here’s your halfway-to-the-holidays 2024 forecast.

    How Are Holiday Shoppers Planning To Spend This Year?

    According to Salsify’s “2024 Holiday Consumer Research” report, 65% of shoppers plan to spend “about the same” as they did in 2023. Just 21% plan to spend less and 15% will likely spend more.

    These numbers are more nuanced across generations. While 21% of baby boomers say they’ll spend less in 2024, 26% of Gen Z say the same.

    Generation Z also represents the highest percentage of big spenders, with 22% saying they plan to spend more than last year. 
    Millennials and Gen X occupy the middle ground with 64% and 70%, respectively, planning to keep their spend the same.

    What Market Trends Are Influencing Consumer Spend?

    Several trends are driving seasonal spending changes.

    The Shopper Category Shift

    Consumers don’t all want the same thing. For color and context, Salsify’s report had shoppers self-identify as different shopper styles, with some sharing similarities:

    • The Bargain Hunter: Values savings, discounts, and value.
    • The Research Maven: Values product information, ratings and reviews, and product quality.
    • The Luxury Lover: Values prestige, exclusivity, and product quality.
    • The Impulse Buyer: Values instant gratification, novelty, and convenience.
    • The Brand Loyalist: Values brand trust, brand identity, and product quality.
    • The Swayable Shopper: Values product features, product variety, and ratings and reviews.

    For example, the 36% of buyers who identify themselves as Bargain Hunters prioritize value for money, savings, and discounts.

    The 32% who fall into the category of Research Mavens, meanwhile, want in-depth production information along with ratings and reviews to help make their decision.

    Rounding out the top three are the Luxury Lovers, at 13%, who are looking for high product quality that also comes with prestige and exclusivity.

    It’s also worth noting that shoppers can occupy more than one category simultaneously. Consider a Luxury Lover committed to getting the highest value for their money — while prestige is important, they put in the work of Research Mavens to make sure they’ve got all the facts.

    Brands must also account for the emerging impact of Impulse Buyers, Brand Loyalists, and Swayable Shoppers. 

    The Self-Gifting Scenario

    According to Salsify data, 61% of shoppers will buy something for themselves this holiday season as they work through gift lists for family and friends.

    While there are some generational differences here — with millennials (73%) and Gen Z (68%) more likely than their counterparts to make a self-purchase — even baby boomers come in at 47% on the self-gifting spectrum.

    The Early Holiday Start

    Seven percent of consumers say they shop all year for holiday gifts. While these early birds are the outliers, many buyers now start seasonal shopping sooner than brands think.

    Consider that 27% of customers start looking for gifts in October, and 26% begin in November before Thanksgiving. While 19% kick off holiday spend during Cyber Week and 16% wait for December, the majority of buyers are giving themselves plenty of time.

    The Event-Driven Opportunity

    Two events are critical in shoppers’ holiday purchase plans: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With 62% of buyers planning to purchase gifts on Black Friday and 45% shopping on Cyber Monday, there’s a golden opportunity for brands to double up on both in-store and ecommerce shopping. 

    4 Brand Strategies To Stay Ahead of Seasonal Spending Trends

    While knowledge of market forces is useful, it’s only profitable when paired with action to capitalize on consumer behavior. Here are four strategies to help brands stay ahead of seasonal trends.

    1. Prioritize Product Information

    To create conversions across consumer categories, high-quality product information is critical. Consider that for every shopper category except Impulse Buyers, product quality and product features are top priorities.

    As a result, brands need to ensure that product display pages (PDPs) contain up-to-date product information, high-quality images (or videos), and links to real customer reviews.

    2. Create Customer Incentives

    More shoppers are buying something for themselves this year, but chances are they won’t go looking for personal purchases outside of holiday lists.

    To capture self-spending dollars, brands need to incentivize holiday buys with benefits such as buy-one-get-one (BOGO) deals, bundle offers, or even free gifts for spending a set amount.

    These options encourage buyers to spend a little more and get something for themselves since they’re also getting something for someone else.

    3. Deliver Omnichannel Experiences

    With most shoppers starting in early October or November, brands have an opportunity to get noticed and keep buyers coming back. Achieving this goal means creating omnichannel experiences that provide a personalized customer journey.

    Consider a holiday shopper who browses a brand website in October. After some research, they return to make a purchase. If they have to start from scratch they may abandon their order, especially if product options or pricing has changed.

    4. Capture Event Interest

    Both Black Friday and Cyber Monday remain highly profitable events for brands — if they can cut through the noise and capture customer attention.

    Here, three components are critical for Cyber Week success:

    • Start early. Don’t wait until late October to start planning. Instead, start in August or September with an analysis of last year’s sales performance and revenue.
    • Know your audience. Send out surveys and feedback emails. Conduct social media polls and see what product reviews have in common. Design your event strategy around the demographics most likely to spend.
    • Offer deals that outpace other sales during the year to drive consumer interest. And if last year’s efforts were a success, consider offering early sales access to repeat customers.

    Seasonal Success: Steady as She Goes

    2024 should see overall seasonal spending levels hold steady. Individual purchasing preferences, meanwhile, are shifting as more consumers start shopping early, seek out great deals at holiday events, and put product quality front and center.

    The result? While spending holds solid, brands can’t afford to rest on their laurels. Instead, they need sales strategies that help them capture customer attention and stay ahead of seasonal trends.


    The Ultimate Ecommerce Holiday Toolkit

    This ecommerce holiday toolkit includes a new consumer research report with detailed insights on how and when holiday shoppers plan to spend and cheat sheets that break down holiday product search queries across 10 different verticals.


    Written by: Doug Bonderud

    Doug Bonderud (he/him) is an award-winning writer with expertise in ecommerce, customer experience, and the human condition. His ability to create readable, relatable articles is second to none.

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    The Ultimate Ecommerce Holiday Toolkit This ecommerce holiday toolkit includes a new consumer research report with detailed insights on how and when holiday shoppers plan to spend and cheat sheets that break down holiday product search queries across 10 different verticals. VIEW TOOLKIT