Press Release

Nielsen forecasts that digital shopping will drive retail holiday sales in 2016

Press Release

Nielsen forecasts that digital shopping will drive retail holiday sales in 2016

Anticipated holiday spending on the rise

New York, NY, November 17, 2016 — E-commerce retailers stand to benefit from shoppers’ continued affinity for online shopping, according to Nielsen’s 2016 holiday trend report. Consumers across all generations are spending more online, however Millennials are leading the way with 25% planning to increase their online expenditures this holiday season. Overall, 19% of U.S. shoppers are planning to spend more online, up from 17% in 2015.

This holiday season, digital shopping will play a major role in retail holiday sales. According Nielsen’s bi-weekly Omnibus English language survey of 1,159 adults aged 18+, as of Nov. 11, consumer sentiment around online shopping is outpacing in-store. Fifty-eight percent of shoppers stated that they have purchased their holiday gifts online compared to 40% in big-box retail stores and 25% in department stores.

“With a growing appetite for all things digital, online platforms will have a more significant role in helping consumers both research and purchase gifts during this holiday season,” says Jordan Rost, VP of Consumer Insights, Nielsen. “Retailers take note, virtual environments present opportunities and unlimited growth potential for merchants – especially with the millennial, digital consumer.”

For the 2016 holiday season, Nielsen worked to uncover the top retail and shopping trends. The below insights are derived from a Nielsen survey of 2,037 U.S. adults aged 18+ online between Nov. 2 and 4, 2016, by The Harris Poll®.

Black Friday: 54% of U.S. consumers are planning to shop on Black Friday, up from 50% in 2015. That said, the weight of Black Friday deals continues to shift beyond a one-day-event.  Digitally savvy consumers are looking for deals on a daily basis.

  • Black Friday Categories On The Rise: This year, shoppers are planning to spend more on pet gifts (30%), jewelry (29%) and cookware (29%)  than they did in 2015. Traditional categories such apparel, consumer electronics, video games, toys and gift cards remain at the top of shopping lists for Black Friday.
  • Department and dollar stores are set to see the biggest rise in shoppers compared to last year, with 59% of consumers planning to shop in department stores and 21% in dollar stores, increases of 2% and 3% respectively.

Cyber Monday: This year, more consumers plan to shop on Cyber Monday (63% vs. 60% in 2015).

  •  Mobile commerce is making large gains in 2016, with 50% of consumers planning to use their phones to shop on Cyber Monday, up from 39% in 2015.

Optimism: Millennials lead all generations in spending optimism, with 12% planning to spend more, followed by Generation X at 8%, Boomers 6% and the Greatest Generation planning on 4% increase in spending

Ready to shop: Millennials also lead consumers who are shopping earlier with 30% having already started, followed by Generation X (23%), Boomers (22%) and Greatest Generation (16%)

Spending More: African Americans lead increased spending, with 15% planning to spend more, up from 14% in 2015 while the total population only has 9% planning to spend more

More Food: Multicultural households are leading the push towards food as holiday gifts, with 19% of African Americans, 14% of Asian Americans, 13% of Hispanic Americans and 8% of Non-Hispanic white consumers planning to spend 8% more on food as a gift

Cookware as Gifts: Multicultural households also dominate shoppers planning to spend more on cookware as gifts: 8% of African Americans, 7% of Asian Americans and 6% of Hispanic Americans anticipate spending more on cookware gifts, compared to the average population at 5%.

“For retailers, the winning strategy for this holiday season will be to get digital right,” said Thom Blischok, Strategic Retail Advisor to Nielsen “In today’s digital landscape, it’s no longer just about promotions, it’s about effectively engaging with the omnichannel consumer. Malls will need to go very deep on discounts early to attract shoppers and bricks and mortar stores will really need to provide a captivating, in-store experiences to properly compete.”

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media, the arbiter of truth for media markets, provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow.

Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what’s happening now, what’s happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world’s population. For more information, visit

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