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November is here: Pass the stuffing. Pass the cranberries. Don't pass up the Black Friday deals. (Pssst: You're in the right place.) And of course, remember to give thanks for the heaping portions of statistics dished out during this frantic, fantastic retail season.
At a time of year when many shoppers keep a laser focus on prices, November also produces data that put the shopping season in context. What's more, the role of "consumer" takes on a double meaning, as we'll gobble-gobble-gobble turkey (and Tofurkey) leftovers from now until — who knows when?
Here's a bird's-eye view of November by the numbers, all wrapped up and ready to present to you as our pre-holiday gift. Sorry, there are no returns on this kind of stuff, unless you take into account the returns posted by retail outlets everywhere. Still, we encourage you to check out these stats before you checkout in line (or online).
Whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa, and/or Hanukkah, that's how much you'll spend, according to estimates posted in the National Retail Federation's Holiday Consumer Spending Survey. That's up nearly 5% over last year's actual total of $767.27, but way higher than how much they're saying you'll spend on co-workers. That adds up to $26.23 — even lower than the estimate for the babysitter ($30.43) or even pets ($26.65). So let's see: Harry the Hamster gets more spent on him than Barry the Boss. Or, maybe Barry the Boss is spending less on you than Digger the Dog. If the second case applies, we suggest you grit your teeth, grin, and graciously thank Barry for the gift that keeps on giving: an electronic Santa that does the Macarena.
In high-tech jargon, this is what's known officially as "WOW." That 44% figure is the highest in the history of the NRF survey. Moreover, 56% of folks plan to shop online, up from 51.5% last year.
The IBM Digital Analytics report on Cyber Monday 2013 shows that Apple aficionados outspent Android users by about $20 ($106.70). Yet those figures are closer than you'd think, given that iOS devices accounted for 22.4% of all online traffic, compared to 9.1% for Android users — so Android users accounted for less than half of traffic, but were spending almost as much per user.
Of all the retail categories in the IBM survey, department stores posted the biggest growth in online sales from 2012 to 2013. That's good news for the future of big retailers, which once seemed doomed by the ascendance of online retailing. Mobile sales grew 52% from 2012, though this statistic says nothing about purchases of ugly holiday sweaters. Depending on which way those stats went, it's either a precipitous growth of common sense, or uncommon kitsch.
Thrift, thrift, holiday shoppers. The discount category tops the NRF survey among brick-and-mortar store types consumers will visit to find bargains and values. It's interesting what brings up the rear here: Way back in the pack are drug stores (19.2%) and craft and fabric stores (18.8%). We can only imagine in the case of the former, ibuprofen makes for a really weird gift (though it proves most useful for post-shopping headaches). And with the latter, let's guess that organized efforts to curtail homemade ugly sweaters have been successful.
This figure comes by way of the University of Illinois Extension, which notes that Thanksgiving runs well ahead of the number two holiday for turkey consumption, Christmas (22 million). The statisticians go on to say that production has increased nearly 110% since 1970.
Once limited and clunky in its ability to make comparison shopping possible, mobile now has increasing influence in how consumers will hit up retailers. (Hint: Have your DealNews app ready.) The survey also found that the majority of smartphone owners (55.7%) will use their device in some fashion, up from 53.8% last year. That could include checks on price and availability, looking up stores, mapping out routes for a shopping excursion, or fielding specials by text. And hey, we almost forgot: A few people will even use their devices to make phone calls.
That recent number, supplied by the Greeting Card Association, places Thanksgiving as a sort of (turkey) sandwich holiday. The card sales are lower than for Halloween (21 million units) and dwarfed by Christmas (some 1.6 billion units). What explains this? On the one hand, Thanksgiving has waned in popularity to Halloween over the years. On the other, it's easy to put cash in a Christmas card, or send a Halloween card just for the fright of it. But what exactly do you put in a Thanksgiving card? Gravy and stuffing don't exactly work, but a gift card just in time for Black Friday.
However you choose to spend the Thanksgiving/Black Friday weekend (or how much you choose to spend), keep that attitude of gratitude going the whole holiday season if you can. As any routine scan of hard news headlines will remind us, we have so much to be thankful for in this country, and an embarrassment of material riches up for sale come the holidays. Meanwhile, remember not to max out your credit cards, and instead lavish those around you with holiday spirit and goodwill — though an affordable token of your affection won't hurt.