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The 2015 holiday shopping season is primed for a strong start, according to Nielsen's Holiday Sales Forecast, which is based on a consumer study that surveyed more than 25,000 U.S. households in September 2015.
This year's top five holiday spending trends, per Nielsen's latest research, include:
Trend #1. Sleigh bells ring in October, bringing an early start to the holiday shopping season for some.
- Nearly a quarter of consumers (23 percent) have already jump-started their holiday shopping, a trend that has been emerging over the past few years. Of that 23 percent, 36 percent are households with kids under 12 and 32 percent are households with five or more members.
- The online channel is poised for even higher growth this season. Indeed, 75 percent of those who are holiday shopping this year report plans to shop online, followed by mass merchandisers (74 percent) and department stores (72 percent).
Trend #2. The multicultural consumer will drive seasonal spending this year.
- Multicultural households account for 38 percent of the projected extra spending: 14 percent African-Americans, 11 percent Asian-Americans and 13 percent Hispanic.
- African-Americans (17 percent) and Asians (13 percent) favor giving food to their gift recipients, whereas Hispanics (14 percent) and whites (11 percent) prefer giving gift cards.
Trend #3. “It” gifts of the season target foodies; gadgets and toys are out.
- Consumers report that they will be spending more this year on cookware and kitchen items versus the past three years.
- Consumers report plans to spend less on toys and tech products this year veruus last year.
Trend #4. Consumer spending this holiday season is strong.
- The majority of households (30 percent) plan to spend between $250 and $500 this holiday season.
- Spending levels are expected to be consistent, with 2014 with a forecasted dollar sales increase of 2 percent.
- While confidence is high, uncertainty still permeates consumer mindset, with 40 percent reporting living paycheck to paycheck, 57 percent believing we're still in a recession, and 53 percent believing that we won't be out of a recession in the next 12 months.
Trend #5. Millennials plan to outspend all other generational segments when it comes to online holiday purchases.
- 21 percent of Millennials plan to spend more online than last year, compared with 15 percent of Gen X, 10 percent of Baby Boomers and 6 percent of the Greatest Generation.
- However, when it comes to shopping holiday retail events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Millennials were motivated to shop a "retail event" because they wanted to participate in a talked about event, so were driven by "FOMO" (fear of missing out).
- Deal seekers dominate holiday retail events, with close to 30 percent saying that they wait for retail holiday sales events to purchase items they couldn't regularly afford. Another trend seen was pantry loading of nontraditional holiday items (like groceries).