Consumers plan to spend an average of $936 during the holiday shopping season. Total spending includes gifts for others, spending on themselves, food, flowers, decorations, and greeting cards for Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, according to a survey conducted for the National Retail Federation. Total planned spending this year is second to the record spending in 2015, $953.
Fifty-eight percent of consumers plan to buy something for themselves, spending an average of $140, up 4 percent from last year’s $134 and making it the second-highest level of personal spending in the survey’s 13-year history.
Consumers say they’ll spend $589 on gifts for others and $207 for items such as food, decorations, flowers, and greeting cards this year.
Clothing and accessories continue to be the most popular gifts for 2016, given by 61 percent of shoppers; 56 percent will give gift cards. Nearly half of shoppers, 44 percent, will give books, CDs, DVDs, videos, or video games; 42 percent will give toys, 31 percent food or candy, and 30 percent will give electronics.
Holiday shoppers are planning to purchase an average of three gift cards with a value of about $46 per card, the second most-popular gift after clothing. Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion, up from last year’s planned $26 billion.
The most popular types of gift cards include those from restaurants, 35 percent; department stores, 33 percent; Visa/MasterCard/American Express, 22 percent; coffee shops, 21 percent; and entertainment, 17 percent.
What are the most popular toys? Barbie, 23 percent, reigns for the second consecutive year among those buying for girls, followed by traditional dolls, 12 percent; Shopkins, 5 percent; Hatchimals, 4 percent; Legos, 3 percent; and American Girl, 3 percent. For boys, Legos again top the list of most popular, 15 percent; followed by cars and trucks, 8 percent; video games and Hot Wheels, tied at 6 percent; and Star Wars-related items, 5 percent.
More than 103 million Americans – the most on record – are expected to travel for the year-end holidays, according to AAA. This is a 1.5 percent increase, or 1.5 million more people traveling, compared with last year.
Most travelers will drive this holiday season. Most travelers – 93.6 million people – will take a holiday road trip, an increase of 1.5 percent over last year. Air travel is expected to increase by 2.5 percent, with more than 6 million Americans flying to their holiday destinations. Travel by other transportation, including cruises, trains and buses, will decrease slightly, to 3.5 million travelers.
New Year’s gas prices second-cheapest in nearly a decade. In mid-December, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.23, 23 cents more than the average price on New Year’s Day 2016, $2. Most U.S. drivers will pay the second-cheapest New Year’s Day gas prices since 2009, when the national average was $1.62.
Holiday airfares, hotel rates, and car rental prices mixed. Holiday airfares are projected to average $204 for a roundtrip flight along the top 40 domestic routes according to AAA’s Leisure Travel Index. Rates for hotels are expected to be up. Daily car rental rates will average $66, slightly lower than last year’s holiday travel season.
Warm-weather destinations top the list of most popular holiday destinations. With the exception of New York City – an always popular holiday destination – warm-weather locations in Nevada, Florida, and California top the list of most popular destinations for this holiday season, based on AAA.com bookings.
- Las Vegas
- New York City
- San Diego
Facts and figures
The U.S. Census Bureau offers these facts and figures for the holiday season this year:
Where toys are made
The number of locations nationwide that primarily produced dolls, toys, and games in 2014, an increase of 15 locations from 2013, 545; they employ 6,215 workers, a decrease of 323 employees from 2013, 6,538. California led the nation with 93 locations.
Some names of places associated with the holiday season are a dozen places named Holly, including Mount Holly, North Caroline, population 14,176, and Holly Springs, Mississippi, 7,610. There’s also Snowflake, Arizona, 5,666); Santa Claus, Indiana, 2,474; North Pole, Alaska, 2,189; Noel, Missouri, 1,824; and – reindeer names – Dasher, Georgia, 963, and Rudolph, Wisconsin, 432. There’s also Unity, New Hampshire, 1,603, and Peace, North Dakota, 28.