Experience Gifting Trends This Holiday Season


According to the National Retail Federation’s final consumer holiday spending survey of the season, the average holiday shopper has completed 53.5 percent of shopping, similar to the 52.9 percent seen this time last year. Approximately 10 percent of holiday shoppers claim to have finished shopping – or 22.6 million people; that means 90 percent of holiday shoppers still have gifts, food, decor and/or other holiday items to buy.  The notable trends from the survey are the popularity of experience gifting, popularity of The Week After Christmas, Gift Cards Usage and the prevalence of Mobile devices for Holiday shopping.

Experience Gifting Trends With Millennials

National Retail Federation  asked holiday shoppers about their intentions to buy an experience Gift such as tickets to a sporting event, cheese of the month club or an adventure outing like whitewater rafting. The survey found that 22.2 percent are planning to give an experience-type gift and 36.5 percent would like to receive one. However, those numbers jump significantly for millennials. More than one-third of both 18-24, 36.1 percent and 25-34 year olds 35.4 percent are planning to give a gift of experience, and half say they’d like to receive one – 55 percent of 18-24, 49.6 percent of 25-34 year olds. Two in five at 43.4 percent 35-44 year olds would like to receive an experience gift.

And, while many will go the experience route, many stand by more traditional purchases. The survey found 50.8 percent said they have already bought clothing and accessories and 34.5 percent have already bought toys. Additionally, 33.5 percent have bought gift cards and 22.8 percent have bought electronic items.

“Giving the gift of experience is something anyone can enjoy and this holiday season, consumers don’t have to go far to find something perfect for the foodie, fashionista, thrill-seeker or sports enthusiast in their lives,” said Prosper’s Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow. “With retailers quickly getting in on this trend by offering their customers ‘bundles’ for the perfect experience, it really is a win-win for consumers and retail companies this year to tout these unique gift ideas.”

The week after Christmas Popular With In-store Shoppers

According to the NRF survey, the holiday season doesn’t end on December 25 as the week after Christmas is more than just an opportunity to exchange that sweater from grandma. According to the survey, two-thirds, 66 percent of holiday shoppers said they are planning to shop – both browsing and buying – retailers’ after-Christmas sales. Specifically, 47.2 percent of shoppers said they would shop at a store and 43.1 percent will shop online that week. Nearly six in 10 millennials (18-24 year olds) will shop, both in stores and online.

Gift Cards

NRF also asked consumers this year about their shopping intentions should they receive a gift card.

The survey found most would likely watch for really good sales or promotions to maximize the value of their gift card  – 41.9 percent and others say they will use their gift card as quickly as they can at 19.7 percent. Nearly 20 percent said they would save their gift card for a rainy day or sometime when they feel the need to treat themselves.

Overall holiday shopping experience a plus so far

Consumers thus far this holiday season say they have had a positive shopping experience with retailers. According to the survey, 60.7 percent of shoppers say they have had either an excellent or very good shopping experience overall. Specifically, nearly three-quarters at 74 percent of 18-24 year olds say they have had either excellent or very good shopping experiences so far.

Mobile devices, tablets have big impact on how people shop

Shoppers continue to research gift ideas, compare prices, look up store information and in-store availability and redeem coupons at purchase. According to the survey, 35.4 percent of smartphone owners and 38.2 percent of tablet owners will use their devices to research products and compare prices.

Source: NRF