While millions have lost their jobs, high-income consumers are enjoying a little extra pocket money after months of putting off big purchases and dodging recreational expenses like travel and dining out. These Americans are paying off debts and bulking up their savings accounts, taking advantage of loan deferrals and pandemic stimulus checks. They'll maintain the ability to pay for basic expenses into the new year, making defaults or bankruptcies within this income class unlikely. In other words, people in this socioeconomic stratum are set up to spend more. Their shopping habits, plus those of optimistic “experience-oriented” millennials with relatively steady cashflows, could lead to America’s biggest holiday spending season yet.

According to a recent survey by PwC, 30% of millennials plan to spend more this holiday than they did last year. 25-to-38-year-olds will do 68% of their holiday shopping online, confirming a larger shift to e-commerce for Christmas and beyond. The National Retail Federation expects holiday sales will grow between 3.6% and 5.2% over 2019 to a total between $755.3 billion and $766.7 billion. (The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants.) What’s more, the NRF expects that online and other non-store sales will increase between 20% and 30% to between $202.5 billion and $218.4 billion, up from $168.7 billion last year. 

Early bird gets the gift

Research by the NRF shows sales were up 10.6% in October versus October 2019, partially due to consumers shopping for Christmas gifts before the impending second COVID wave. NRF’s latest research shows 42% of consumers started their holiday shopping earlier than usual this year. 59% of those surveyed had started holiday shopping by early November, up from 49% at that period a decade ago.  

By postponing its annual Prime Day sales event to October, Amazon kicked off the trend of retailers offering early holiday savings. Companies like Home Depot, Target, Costco, and Walmart all extended their Black Friday sales periods to last anywhere from nine days to a few months long. Deloitte’s InSightIQ data found these new promotions boosted sales during the third week of October by 6% YoY.

Black Friday’s online makeover

This Black Friday, consumers abandoned malls, once the hot spot for post-Thanksgiving bargain shopping, in favor of browsing e-retailers on the couch. Shopify recorded a 75% increase in Black Friday sales. According to Adobe Analytics, every day of 2020 Cyber Week broke records for online spending. Amazon said independent businesses crossed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales on its platform from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, an increase of more than 60% from this time last year. E-commerce sales are up 36.7% year-over-year during the third quarter, the NRF reports. 

Foot traffic dropped 52.1% compared with last year, according to data from Sensormatic Solutions. But even still, the stores that closed on Thanksgiving are the same ones that saw the most activity the following morning. Our data shows the Facebook ‘Were Here’ counts for Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and Costco surged on Black Friday. (Facebook's Were Here count measures how many check-ins, mobile device shares, status updates, and photo location tags have been created at a business.) Walmart led the pack at 22.86 million.

Prices surge for office products and sports gear

Our data shows Amazon’s average listing prices in the Office, Sports & Outdoors, and Grocery & Gourmet Food categories increasing the most year-over-year. Office products’ average listing price is up almost 900% YoY, while Sports & Outdoors’ average product price is up 69% and Grocery & Gourmet’s average price is up 89%.

Speaking of sports, the sportswear industry is heating up ahead of the holidays, and Adidas is leading in web traffic. Its weekly average page views per million users increased by 137% over the last three months, followed by Reebok’s 123% increase and Lululemon’s 63% jump. 

According to Deloitte, 66% of Thanksgiving shoppers spent money on apparel and accessories, 52% spent on toys and games, and 49% spent on electronics.

The luxury sector sees no need for discounts

Some retailers are using the increased holiday demand to offer customers more deals and savings. Meanwhile, the luxury sector is taking advantage of the seasonal spike, and wealthy consumers’ extra spending money, with fewer discounts and higher prices. Our data shows Coach slashed discounted items by 41% from February to mid-October, while Gucci raised the average price of products on its website by 17% from last year.


Fendi’s Facebook ‘Were Here’ count is up over 200% year-over-year as shoppers search for something to celebrate in their new designer bags.


Some early indicators said store closures and customers' COVID concerns would destroy Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending.  Fewer shoppers bought gifts during the days from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, and those who did spent less money, as discounts started as early as October this year. 186.4 million shoppers bought holiday gifts, food, or decorations from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, the NRF reported, less than the 189.6 million shoppers making those purchases during that period last year and higher than the 165.8 million in 2018. But the rise of online shopping, luxury's rebound, and positive projections for the rest of the season might be enough to offset the slow start.

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.

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