ICSC Predicts 3.3 Percent Holiday Sales Gain

ICSC Predicts 3.3 Percent Holiday Sales Gain

International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) is forecasting overall year-over-year growth of 3.3 percent in retail sales this holiday season (November to December). That pace would be significantly ahead of the average ten-year holiday sales growth of 1.8 percent and slightly ahead of the current yearly pace of 2.8 percent.

Notable growth categories include:

Furniture and home furnishing stores (4.9 percent)
Clothing and clothing access stores (3.3 percent)
Health and personal care stores (3.3 percent)
Electronics and appliance stores (1.1 percent)

The 2015 International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) Consumer Forecast shows 90 percent of Americans are planning holiday purchases this season, up from 82 percent last year. And overall, 80 percent of shoppers plan to spend the same or more this holiday season than they did in 2014.

“With gas prices and unemployment down, and housing prices up, holiday shoppers are heading into the season with increased confidence in their spending power”

Holiday shoppers will spend an average of $702 this season – up from $677 in 2014 – allocated as follows:

$575 on holiday gifts
$127 on all other holiday-related items, such as decorations, greeting cards, etc.

On average, the highest income group polled ($100k+) will spend $1,062, and those with incomes less than $35k will spend an average of $500.

“With gas prices and unemployment down, and housing prices up, holiday shoppers are heading into the season with increased confidence in their spending power,” says Jesse Tron, ICSC Spokesman. “While certain headwinds exist, such as uncertainty in global financial markets and minimal wage growth in the U.S., the positive macroeconomic trends are likely to win out and propel retail sales throughout the holiday season. As a result, it appears to be shaping up as a solid season for retailers, and if ICSC’s forecast holds, one that would better the average of the previous ten seasons by 1.5 percentage points.”

The top five categories in which Americans are planning to spend this holiday season are:

Traditional gift cards (54 percent)
Electronics/devices (51 percent)
Apparel and footwear (49 percent)
Toys and games, not including apps or video games (42 percent)
Food such as chocolates, popcorn and food baskets and beverages/alcohol (34 percent)

’Tis Already the Season… for Retailers

Americans are starting their holiday shopping earlier and the stragglers are pushing later. This year, two thirds (66 percent) of Americans will start shopping before Thanksgiving Day. Only 7 percent expect to be done by Thanksgiving, however; 65 percent are planning to have their holiday shopping complete by December 15.

Many Americans are looking to do their holiday shopping on actual holidays: 12 percent plan to make purchases on Thanksgiving Day, and 8 percent plan to shop on Christmas Eve. And the year’s biggest retail holiday – Black Friday – will continue to be a big draw: 41 percent of holiday shoppers plan to take advantage of sales on that day.

Brick-and-Mortar Shoppers to Keep Physical Stores, Santas Extremely Busy

95 percent of holiday shoppers intend to make a purchase in a physical store this year. Their top reasons for doing so include:

They like the ability to physically see, touch or try on the merchandise (46 percent)
They don’t want to pay for shipping (36 percent)
The sales they want are only offered in store (30 percent)
They find it easier to return or exchange items at a store (28 percent)
They enjoy the convenience of one-stop shopping (27 percent)

And another top draw is Mr. Claus: half of all adults with children under the age of 13 plan to see Santa at a shopping center this holiday season.

Three-quarters (74 percent) of U.S. adults will visit shopping centers during the holiday season to do something other than shop. The top non-shopping, non-Santa activities include: participating in a charitable activity (e.g. food, clothing, or toy drive) (41 percent), dining at a table service restaurants and going to the movies (28 percent each).


The 2015 ICSC Holiday Shopping Survey was conducted online by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of ICSC from September 29-October 1, 2015. The survey represents a demographically representative U.S. sample of 2,001 adults 18 years of age and older.

The ICSC Holiday Forecast figure was derived using an exponential smoothing time series model based on not seasonally adjusted monthly retail sales less the automotive sectors and non-store vendors. The forecast represents the combined November and December year-over-year increase in nominal terms. The constituent retail categories were calculated using the same technique.