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Holiday spending surpasses expectations


Initial reports about holiday spending bode well for retailers.

Consumers spent 16% more on holiday purchases this year than in 2015, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers Post-Holiday Shopping Survey.

The report finds that consumers spent an average of $711 on gifts and other holiday-related items this holiday season. This represents a 16% increase over 2015’s post-holiday survey results ($611) and is 4% ($27) above holiday shoppers’ intentions as measured in ICSC’s Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey in October.

In total, consumers spent an average of $897 on gifts and related items, dining, movies and other entertainment experiences at malls and shopping centers this holiday season.

Gen X spent the most, averaging $1,000, followed by Baby Boomers ($875) and Millennials ($867). Experiences accounted for 20% of total consumer holiday expenditure, with Millennials topping this spending category at $220, data showed.

“Consumer confidence continued to improve into December, and we saw this optimism reflected in the holiday spending numbers,” said Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC. “The strong holiday shopping sea-son suggests a positive environment for retail sales overall.”

More than half (51%) of all holiday shoppers waited until the days lead-ing up to Christmas to complete their shopping, reinforcing the need for retailers to keep pace with technology as it continues to change purchas-ing habits and give consumers more options. Almost 70% of total holi-day related expenditures occurred in stores with both a physical and an online presence. The physical store proved paramount to the shopping experience again this year, with 91% of holiday shoppers spending at physical stores, the exact same percentage as 2015, the report said.

Omnichannel retailers also stepped up their buy online, pick-up in-store services. Among shoppers using this service, 61% made an additional purchase in-person (75% of Millennials, specifically).

In fact, 81% of Millennials visited a shopping center this holiday season, more than any other generation, including Baby Boomers (62%) and Gen X (73%). While Millennials rely on technology and mobile as part of the shopping experience, either research or purchasing, 77% said it is im-portant to buy online from stores that have a physical presence, data re-vealed.

Millennials also used a mobile device while shopping in-stores (86%), and 96% made a purchase from those retailers. Of those who used a de-vice in a store:

• 52% compared prices

• 40% checked availability/inventory

• 37% got digital discounts or coupons

• 33% read reviews/ratings

“The convergence of physical and digital continues to be important as consumers have come to expect an integrated experience allowing them to buy products through a variety of channels,” said McGee. “The survey data proves that omnichannel retailers are the real winners this season as they offer purchasing options that satisfy the shopping behaviors of all generations.”

Among the 70% of consumers that visited shopping centers this holiday season, 73% shopped, 45% dined at a restaurant or other eating estab-lishment, and 26% saw a movie. Among shoppers, the most purchased categories were gift cards (63%), apparel and footwear (50%), and toys and games (44%), the study said.

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