Quick Stats

Quick Stats

    You are here

    Expert Column: Multicultural Consumers Driving Holiday Sales Growth for Retailers

    Nielsen predicts dollar sales increase of 1.8% for 2014

    By James Russo, Nielsen

    ‘Tis the season to be merry, and multicultural consumers will give retailers and manufacturers something to cheer about this holiday season. Multicultural consumers continue to be a key driver of holiday sales growth this year, according to the new 2014 Nielsen Holiday Retail Sales Forecast, which surveyed more than 25,000 demographically representative U.S. households. Sales forecasts for the study were derived from an analysis of 92 categories covering five departments representing more than $100 billion in sales.

    Heading into the season, unit and dollar sales are weaker than 2013. Despite improving conditions, 65 percent of respondents believe the country is still in a recession and wage growth continues to lag. However, it’s not all doom and gloom and retailers and manufacturers have a reason to celebrate this holiday season. The economy is getting back on its feet, thanks to job gains and lower gas prices, and 10 percent of Americans say they do plan on spending more this holiday season than they did this time last year. The Holiday Retail Sales Forecast predicts a dollar sales increase of 1.8 percent, which is up from the 1.2 percent sales increase in 2013.  

    However, it’s the multicultural consumers – Hispanics, African Americans and Asians who are really going to boost their holiday purchasing this year. Seventeen percent of African Americans and 13 percent of both Asian Americans and Hispanics say they will spend more this year than last year.

    When will we buy?

    It’s not your imagination. The holiday shopping season and buzz really does start earlier and earlier every year. As a result of these early prompts from retailers, marketers and manufacturers, nearly one-quarter of survey respondents (22 percent) had already started their holiday shopping when polled in September -- 27 percent of female survey respondents vs. 12 percent of males. Out of those who already started holiday shopping, 30 percent have five or more household family members and 32 percent have children under age 12.

    Today’s multicultural shopper is pragmatic. Seventy one percent of Asian Americans, 70 percent of African Americans, 67 percent of Hispanic and 67 percent of Millennials said they planned to wait to do their holiday shopping when polled. Because retailers are offering such aggressive promotions, particularly during the last two weeks before Christmas, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are losing their significance as the primary deal days of the season.

    What will consumers buy this season?

    Gift cards will be the big hero this season. All shoppers will spend 12 percent more on gift cards, 10 percent more on electronic merchandise and 10 percent more on toys this year than last year. For African Americans, electronics and food are the most popular gift categories (17 percent each) followed by apparel (15 percent). Asian Americans choose food as the most popular gift category (14 percent), followed by electronics (13 percent) and apparel (12 percent). Hispanics find gift cards to be the most popular gift category (15 percent) followed by electronics (13 percent), then toys (13 percent). Millennials favor giving tech items (10 percent), while Gen Xers (10 percent), Boomers (10 percent) and Greatest Generation (10 percent) favor gift cards. Grocery stores that stock up on gift cards will see a positive return on that investment this season.

    Where will they buy?

    Online continues to be the channel that is poised for even more growth this season as it appeals to a broad base of key consumer segments. Millennials (17 percent) plan to spend more online than Gen X (15 percent), Boomers (12 percent) and Greatest Generation (7 percent). Asian Americans plan to do most of their shopping online (24 percent), followed by visiting mass merchandisers (11 percent), then shopping at electronics stores (10 percent). Hispanics plan to do most of their shopping online (24 percent), followed by mass merchandisers (13 percent), then toy stores (11 percent). African Americans plan to do most of their shopping online (20 percent), followed by shopping at electronics (15 percent) and grocery stores (15 percent).

    It’s beginning to look a lot like a stronger holiday season and lot of the credit goes to the multicultural consumer. Holiday spending is a reflection of the health of the economy and while there is still some uncertainty, the signs of improvement are already visible to consumers and should be reflected in moderate sales gains this year.

    By James Russo, Nielsen
    • About James Russo James Russo is SVP, global consumer insights at Nielsen.

    Related Content

    Related Content