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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 08, 2008 • Issue 08:12:01


The spend of Holidays past

The spend of holiday past

Year after year, consumers increase the amount of money they spend on holiday gifts. Even in tough times, consumers open their hearts and wallets to spend more. And the holiday season continues to be the lifeblood of the retail industry. Here are some highlights from the season going back through 2003.


On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), holiday shoppers spent $4.2 billion - an increase of 5 percent from 2002, according to ShopperTrak.

Visa USA (now Visa Inc.) reported that in the two days following Thanksgiving, U.S. spending on Visa-branded debit and credit cards reached $6.5 billion, climbing 12 percent from the previous year.

Fifty-four percent of U.S. consumers were still paying off credit card debt from the 2002 holiday season, but economists predicted they would increase their holiday spending by 6.3 percent, according to Consolidated Credit Counseling Services Inc. and Bank One Corp., respectively.


More than 133 million people shopped over the Thanksgiving holiday, according to the National Retail Federation. The average shopper spent $265.15, and total spending over the weekend reached $22.8 billion.

MasterCard International (now MasterCard Worldwide) reported a 17.9 percent increase in transaction volume for the holiday season, causing it to process more holiday transactions than ever before.

More than 8.8 billion purchases were made online, a 24 percent increase over the holiday season in 2003, according to data released by VeriSign Inc.


A survey from the NRF predicted just under $18.5 billion in gift card sales for the holiday season, a 6.6 percent increase from 2004. More than 75 percent of respondents said they planned to buy a gift card.

Market research firm comScore Inc. reported total spending on retail Web sites for the four-day Thanksgiving holiday reached $925 million. This was a 24 percent increase over the same four days in 2004.

Online consumer spending for the months of November and December rose to $18.1 billion, a 25 percent increase from the same period in 2004, according to comScore. An estimated 33 percent of U.S. households made at least one Internet purchase during the holiday season.


According to an NRF survey, debit cards would be the favored payment form for gift purchases for the 2006 holiday season, with 39.1 percent of consumers planning to use them. The number of individuals who intended to pay cash dropped to 24.3 percent, from 28.5 percent in 2005. One in three would rely on credit cards. Only 6.2 percent would write checks at the register.

For the first time, gift cards were expected to supplant toys, games, music and movies as the gift of choice, rivaling even apparel, according to an American Express Co. gift card survey of 1,013 shoppers.

Two-thirds (66 percent) of respondents said they would purchase gift cards. Those planning to buy apparel gifts remained steady at 68 percent.

According to Retail Decisions, online retail sales volume increased 109 percent on Black Friday. Most shoppers were online in the afternoon.


Deloitte & Touche LLP's 22nd Annual Holiday Survey determined 18 percent of holiday shoppers planned to buy "green" products in the holiday season; 17 percent said they were willing to pay more for eco-friendly gifts.

According to the NRF's second annual Return Fraud Survey projections, nearly 9 percent of holiday merchandise returns would be fraudulent, up from 8.67 percent the year before. As a result, it would cost retailers an estimated $3.7 billion, up from $3.5 billion the previous year.

MasterCard reported that holiday spending from Thanksgiving to Christmas increased only 3.6 percent over the previous year. By comparison, sales grew 6.6 percent in 2006 and 8.7 percent in 2005. end of article

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