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38 Fascinating Facts About . . .

Holiday Shopping

  1. In 2009, consumers spent on average $740 on Christmas presents.s
  2. In 2010, consumers can expect higher holiday prices for t-shirts and jeans due to natural disasters in major cotton-producing countries such as Pakistan. Holiday shoppers in 2010 plan to spend more on clothes (57%) than anything else, including toys (41%)v.
  3. Consumers’ use of credit cards to shop during the 2010 holiday season is the lowest since 2002. More Americans are expected to use their debit cards or cash for holiday purchases to ensure they don’t go over their budget.i
  4. woman shopping Men, young adults, and Southerners are most likely to spend on themselves
  5. The average holiday shopper will spend $107.50 on themselves.a
  6. In 2010, approximately 37.2% of Americans began holiday shopping by Halloween.a
  7. The National Retail Federation estimates that Black Friday Deals in 2010 will entice approximately 138 million consumers, an increase of 4 million from 2009.o
  8. Black Friday is not necessarily the best day to shop. Because of the recession, retailers will offer deep discounts throughout the holiday season to keep an edge in the competitive climate. Deep discounts days are especially notable on the Saturday before Christmas or Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving).n
  9. While the deals offered on Black Friday often aren’t necessarily the best deals that will be offered during the holiday shopping season, many consumers will stand outside stores at 4:30 a.m. or earlier in the bitter cold because it has become a family tradition as well as a ritual of sorts that holds an important social component.e
  10. Shopping is influenced by several subconscious appeals to consumers. For example, if shoppers like the type of music retailers are playing, shoppers will be more likely to enter the store and like the products. Additionally, the slower the tempo of the music, the slower people will walk through the store, and the more they will buy. A faster tempo will encourage shoppers to walk faster and, consequently, they won’t buy as much.r
  11. There are roughly 1,175 malls in the United States, which generate $308 billion in annual sales. On Black Friday 2010, retailers at shopping malls reported sales of $10.7 billion, an increase of 0.3% from 2009.g
  12. Retailers rely on several psychological triggers to attract consumers into their store, such as placing limits on items, offering “gifts” with purchase, employing visual tricks, and declaring that sales are ending soon (when in fact discounts are common throughout the season).t
  13. Many “door buster deals” advertised on Black Friday, such as those on expensive items (like HDTVs), are typically in very limited supplies—maybe just 4-6 per store—and act merely as lures to attract customers.n
  14. personal space Shoppers actively avoid the “butt brush” factor
  15. Retail researchers note a “butt brush” effect, which means that when a customer’s personal space is invaded, he or she will leave, even if interested in the item.t
  16. On average, it takes five trips to the mall to complete all holiday shopping.b
  17. Research indicates that shopping has a direct effect on the brain’s pleasure centers. It can flood the brain with dopamine, similar to the way a drug addict experiences a fix.p
  18. The second most popular present after clothing in 2010 will be gift cards. In 2009, consumers spent $23.6 billion on gift cards during the holidays, with an average of $40 on each card. It is estimated that in 2010, 85% of consumers will spend up to $50 on each gift card.j
  19. In an attempt to increase holiday sales, stores will send out emails, often several in one day. The more a person browses the emails, the more likely he or she is to buy. To avoid impulsive buying, psychologists suggest deleting the emails without opening them unless consumers are already planning to buy an item.t
  20. Satellite images of America’s most famous malls, like the Mall of Georgia, show fuller parking lots than the last two years, pointing to a strong end to the retail year. However, parking lot images don’t take into other factors, such as online shoppers.m
  21. The National Retail Federation projects U.S. holiday sales to reach $447.1 billion in 2010, an increase of 2.3% from last year. While still lower than average, the figure is better than the 3.9% drop in 2008 due to the economic downturn.a
  22. In 2009, holiday sales represented 19.1% of total retail industry sales. Jewelry stores typically receive most of their sales (29.5%) during the holidays. For some retailers, holiday sales make up between 25-50% of total sales. Many retailers hope that starting the Christmas season earlier will result in buying earlier and buying more.l
  23. The National Retail Federation considers the “holiday shopping” season to be the full months of November and December, which is usually 55 days.l
  24. Coined by the National Retail Federation in 2005 to generate consumer excitement, Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is the online equivalent of Black Friday. In 2009, Cyber Monday generated $887 million.q
  25. The entire 2009 online holiday shopping generated $27 billion. Researchers predict 2010 online sales to increase 11% from 2009 to total approximately $32.4 billion.h
  26. holiday shopping The busiest shopping day of the year is the Saturday before Christmas
  27. The busiest shopping day of the year is not Black Friday, but the Saturday before Christmas. The busiest online shopping day takes place on the Monday or Tuesday a week or two before the week of Christmas.q
  28. In 2009, stores hired an additional 453,600 workers for the holiday shopping season. In 2008, retailers only hired 231,000.a
  29. In 2009, retailers lost $2.7 billion due to return fraud during the holiday season. The most common form of return fraud is the return of stolen merchandise. It is also common for criminals to return merchandise that was bought with counterfeit receipts or currency. In the 2010 holiday season, return fraud is expected to cost retailers $3.7 billion.f
  30. The projected top 10 Christmas toys for boys in 2010 are 1) video games, 2) LEGOs, 3) cars (generic), 4) Disney Toy Story figures, 5) Hot Wheels, 6) Transformers, 7) Xbox 360, 8) Fisher-Price toys, (9) Iron Man, and 10) trucks (generic) and Nintendo (tied).k
  31. The projected top 10 Christmas toys for girls in 2010 are 1) Barbie, 2) dolls (generic), 3) Dora the Explorer, 4) video games, 5) Disney princesses, 6) Zhu Zhu pets, 7) American Girl, 8) Fisher-Price toys, 9) Disney Hannah Montana, and 10) Bratz.k
  32. Researchers have proven that a “50% off” sign leads in increased sales, even if shoppers don’t know the original price or what a reasonable price for the product would be.e
  33. When a salesperson asks a shopper which of several items she or he prefers, the shopper will often skip the question “Should I buy? and instead ask “Which one should I buy?”e
  34. Researchers have found that presenting a confusing sales pitch (e.g., telling a potential customer that a candy bar is 300 cents) and then reframing the statement in a clearer way increases the sale of an item.e
  35. christmas smell Retailers use several psychological triggers to entice consumers into their stores
  36. Retailers take advantage of traditional Christmas smells and tastes to attract customers. For example, retailers may waft the smell of roasting chestnuts throughout their store and offer free samples of Christmas cookies. Holiday smells and tastes also stimulate the saliva glands, which makes shoppers hungry. Hungry shoppers are more likely to buy anything, not just food.r
  37. Six percent of the U.S. population can be considered “compulsive buyers,” which is an addiction to shopping that affects both men and women equally.p
  38. Retailers often stock “impulse buys” at the end of aisles and near the cash registers. Researchers have noted that a traditional Thanksgiving dinner full of tryptophan and carbohydrates creates serotonin, which is known to reduce impulsive behavior.e
  39. In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death when he attempted to open the doors to the store at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.u In 2010, there were several reports of violence on Black Friday, including a Wisconsin woman who was arrested when she threatened other shoppers with a gun after she cut in line.d
  40. December 15-24th is the crux of the holiday shopping season, accounting for 40% of holiday business.g
  41. All 364 items in the popular song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” would cost $96,824 in 2010, an increase of 10.8% from last year. Just one of everything would cost $23,439, which is a 9.2% increase from 2009.w
  42. Online Black Friday sales in 2010 are estimated to be $648 million, up 9% from 2009. On Thanksgiving Day itself, shoppers spent $407 million online.c

-- Posted November 30, 2010


a “2010 Holiday Headquarters.” National Retail Federation.

b Berkow, Jameson. “FP Tech Desk: Measuring the Demands of Holiday Shopping.” Financial Post. November 23, 2010. Accessed: November 25, 2010.

c “Black Friday Deals Soar for eBay, Others.” Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal. November 29, 2010. Accessed: November 29, 2010.

d “Black Friday Shopper Accused of Gun Threat.” CNN. November 26, 2010. Accessed: November 29, 2010.

e Britt, Robert Roy. “Buyer Beware: The Many Ways Retailers Can Trick You.” Live Science. July 2008. Accessed: November 15, 2010.

f Davis, Ellen. “Return Fraud to Cost Retailers $3.7 Billion This Holiday Season.” National Retail Federation. November 9, 2010. Accessed: November 15, 2010.

g D’Innocenzio, Anne. “Holiday Sales Encouraging, But Are Shoppers Done?” KSL.com. November 29,2010. Accessed: November 29, 2010.

h “E-Commerce Sales Rise by 5 Percent to Reach $27 Billion . . . .” ComScore. December 30, 2009. Accessed: November 20, 2010.

i Grannis, Kathy. “Consumers’ Reliance on Credit Cards for Holiday Purchases Lowest Since ’02.” National Retail Federation. November 16, 2010. Accessed: November 23, 2010.

j ----.“Gift Givers Listening to Recipients as Gift Card Spending Expected to Rise.” National Retail Federation. November 17, 2010. Accessed: November 25, 2010.

k ----.“Iron Man, Toy Story Characters Among Favorites on Top Toy List.” National Retail Federation. November 19, 2010. Accessed: November 25, 2010.

l “Holiday FAQ.” National Retail Federation. Accessed: November 15, 2010.

m Hough, Jack. “Spy Satellites Predict Strong Christmas Sales.” SmartMoney. November 24, 2010. Accessed: November 25, 2010.

n Kavilanz, Parija. “Black Friday 2010’s Dirty Little Secrets.” CNNMoney. November 19, 2010. Accessed: November 25, 2010.

o ---. “Black Friday Deals to Draw 138 Million Shoppers.” CNNMoney. November 18, 2010. Accessed: November 25, 2010.

p Lawson, Willow. “Doped on Shopping.” Psychology Today. March 1, 2006. Accessed: November 15, 2010.

q Pham, Alex. “Cyber Monday Becomes Mundane.” Los Angeles Times. November 26, 2009. (B1).

r Ravn, Karen. “Buyer Beware—of How You’re Being Coaxed into Spending.” LA Times. November 22, 2010.

s Saad, Lydia. “Consumers Issue a Cautious Christmas Spending Forecast.” Gallup. October 25, 2010. Updated: November 26, 2010. Accessed: November 26, 2010.

t “Shopping Psychology.” CBS News. November 15, 2010. Accessed: November 23, 2010.

u “Wal-Mart Worker Dies in Rush, Two Killed at Toy Store.” CNN U.S. November 28, 2008. Accessed: November 15, 2010.

v Whitaker, Bill. “High Prices Means Holiday Shopping May Suffer.” CBS News. November 14, 2010. Accessed: November 20, 2010.

w Yates, Jennifer. “12 Days of Christmas ‘Items’ Cost Nears $100,000.” Yahoo Finance. November 29, 2010. Accessed: November 29, 2010.