What Happened During U.S. Holidays 2017?

In 2017, U.S. Holiday sales saw strong growth of 5.5%, reaching $691.9 billion. The positive results were fueled by rising wages, strong employment rates and higher consumer confidence as sales grew more than expected and online saw an 11.5% increase to $138.4 billion. 

The majority of U.S. consumers started their Holiday shopping in November, while 40% started in October or earlier and 17% started in December. 61% of Holiday shoppers purchased their last gift during the week leading up to Christmas, making fast fulfillment a critical success factor for retailers. 

The 2017 Cyber Five period, the 5 shopping days starting on Thanksgiving Day and ending on Cyber Monday, recorded online sales growth of 21.4% with Cyber Monday seeing the highest online growth (26% vs. 2016), followed by Thanksgiving Day (22% vs. 2016).

Flexible fulfillment was still a top priority for consumers as 50% said free shipping was the most important reason to shop at a particular retailer, while 49% utilized click & collect services and 19% used expedited shipping.  

Did we see any new trends during this holiday season?

  • The growing influence of social media is playing a key role in consumers’ discovery and purchase decisions as they obsess about creating the most impressive sharable content (49% of consumers found Holiday gift inspiration from online research). 
    • Best-in-Class: Target partnered with social media influencers from the Home Décor, Entertainment, Fashion, and Events industries to share their top gift picks. 

  • As evidenced in our Store of the Future Report, ‘retailtainment’ remains a key factor in holiday excitement. 60% of consumers aged 18-24 years old wanted to receive gifts of experience and 33% planned to give them. This trend highlights the growing popularity of non-physical gifts that will drive the adoption of experiential elements inside retail stores. 

    • Best-in-Class: Walmart hosted events in its stores called “Toys That Rock”, “Parties That Rock”, and “Gifts That Rock”, in addition to Holiday helpers that were first introduced in 2016.

  • Digital gift assistants will increasingly become an essential part of consumers’ gift-buying journey using machine learning to provide recommendations and inspiration.  

    • Best-in-Class: Zalando partnered with Google to launch a gift guide assistant that allowed users to find the perfect gift through a conversation with a chatbot.

Planning for an unpredictable future is challenging. PlanetRetail RNG offers go to market intelligence to:

  • Understand the reinvention of the future store

  • Navigate tomorrow’s ecommerce landscape

  • Develop the capabilities needed to find growth in a digital world

For more information about how we can better help you navigate all stages of the shopper journey, please contact us by completing the “Contact us” form.

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