Shoppers up their holiday budgets this year

Shoppers not only plan to spend 25% more than last year, but they also plan to do more of their shopping in stores.

October 28, 2021
  • Keisha Virtue

Looking for more insights? Never miss an update.

The latest news, insights and opportunities from global commercial real estate markets straight to your inbox.


It’s started early this year. My 5-year-old daughter confidently approached me with her latest toy/gift requests. Very specific, mind you. Topping the list is the 3D Clone Pin Art Toy, which apparently allows kids to press their hands – or some other object – into a futuristic pin board that holds the imprint. It took a while for me to understand what my daughter was saying, but after some back-and-forth and google searches, we arrived at a consensus. Also, high up on the list is the ever-popular Orbeez, which just sounds like a cleaning nightmare waiting to happen. In the meantime, I have carefully put away the Amazon holiday toy catalogue that faithfully comes to me every year. This year, since I’m finally able to, I’m heading to stores first. And I’m not alone. Here are a few key findings from our 2021 Holiday Shopping Survey:



Shoppers plan to spend 25% more than last year

Consumer spending has been a major boost to recovery this year and that trend will continue during the holidays. The per-person average holiday budget surged 25.4% from 2020. Last year, shoppers planned to spend an average of $694 per person on all holiday-related purchases. This year they plan to spend $870 – nearly what it was in 2019 at $874. On average, shoppers plan to spend $613 on gifts and $257 on other holiday-related merchandise like food & décor. 

Consumers with incomes over $150,000 plan to spend more than twice as much as those earning under $25,000. Older Millennials and younger Gen X (30-44 years old) will spend the most on general holiday-related goods. Older shoppers (45 years and older) will spend the most on gifts; no doubt they’re shopping for their grandkids

Shoppers plan to spend 25% more this year


More consumers plan to visit stores to shop or pick up orders than to buy online 

Shopping across channels has become a way of life for most Americans, particularly since COVID boosted online orders and curbside pickup. While 60.1% of shoppers will order online from a pure-play e-tailer like Amazon, more plan to do some form of shopping involving the physical store: 58% plan to shop in stores, while 34% will buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) and 22.6% will take advantage of curbside pickup. 

I remember growing up in Jamaica. Our parents would drop us off at the “plaza” – consecutive rows of 2-story retail strip centers, lined with stores. With more than 50 stores to choose from, we would walk and shop and dine all day, dragging our ever-growing shopping bags with us until the end of the day, when our parents picked us up. It was exhilarating and fun and rewarding. And precisely what I want from my holiday shopping experience. This year, I hope to recreate some of that Christmas shopping magic as I walk the mall with my shopping list. 

It is interesting to note that more than half of shoppers surveyed (57.9%) only plan to shop in-store. And consumers who plan to do any of their shopping in stores this year will spend 10.2% more than the average holiday budget of $870. Given current labor shortages, some retailers like Walmart, Williams-Sonoma and Under Armour have upped wages in order to attract more workers. 



Consumers plan to do more shopping in-store than in 2019 & 2020

Consumers plan to get something for themselves this holiday

After a tough 2020, more shoppers plan to reward themselves with a little – or not so little gift. Over 71% of shoppers plan to self-gift this year – up from roughly 65% last year. Apparel is the most popular category, with 47.6% of shoppers planning to buy clothes or shoes. While more women plan to gift themselves clothing, accessories or home furnishings, significantly more men than women (50.9% vs. 30.8%) will buy themselves electronics. My husband took advantage of early Black Friday deals to get a laptop from Best Buy – delivered same-day from our nearby store. Shoppers who plan to buy electronics or home furnishings for themselves will also spend more than the average holiday budget.

More than 70% of shoppers will pick up something for themselves


Contact Keisha Virtue

Sr Analyst, Research - Retail