What you need to know

US retail sales in November and December are predicted to reach $807 billion in 2020, up 1.5% over the same period in 2019. This is much lower than the growth in 2019 (+4%) and the 10-year average of +3.3%, driven down as a result of the effects of COVID-19 and subsequent recession. Macroeconomic factors at the time of writing (July 2020) do not bode well for the retail industry, economy at large, or the winter holiday shopping season. However, although early planners have already begun preparations, there are still a few months before holiday shopping begins in earnest. The percentage of consumers who plan to shop during the holidays remains relatively unchanged versus last year, but how they shop, what they buy, how much they can realistically spend, and how they celebrate the holidays will be altered this year. Retailers can play a very large role in helping shoppers make the holidays special, even if it’s different than how they originally planned.

Key issues covered in this Report

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the retail industry, and what this means for retailers during the winter holidays

  • The recessionary impact on winter holiday shopping

  • How, where and when consumers plan to shop this winter holiday season

  • Potential purchases for gifts and holiday celebrations

  • What retailers can do to help consumers plan for, shop for and celebrate the holidays

This Report was written in June-July 2020.


For the purposes of this Report, “holiday shopping” refers to expected consumer expenditures on holiday-specific items such as gifts, decorations, seasonal candy and other food, greeting cards and other expenditures.

This Report focuses on Winter holidays (eg, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa), as these represent the bulk of total holiday expenditures.

This Report builds on the analysis presented in Mintel’s Winter Holiday Shopping – US, July 2019. Mintel’s The Impact of COVID-19 on Retail and eCommerce – US, June 2020 is an important companion to this Report, as it directly and thoroughly covers the current state of retail.

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