Record U.S. Spending and Travel Expected this Holiday Season


With unemployment at historically low levels and noted improvements in both disposable income and household net worth, the National Retail Federation projects holiday retail sales during November and December to increase between 3.8% – 4.2% over 2018 to a total of $727.9 billion – $730.7 billion. Online sales and other non-store sales, which are included in the total, are expected to increase between 11% – 14% to $162.6 billion – $166.9 billion, up from $146.5 billion last year. The estimates, which exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, compare with an average holiday sales increase of 3.7% over the previous five years. Consumers are projected to spend a total of $1,048 on average, 4% more than last year.



The American Automobile Association (AAA) is projecting a record 115.6 million Americans will travel this holiday season–from 12/21/19 through 1/1/2020–an increase of 3.9% over last year, or 4.3 million more people. More than 104 million holiday travelers will drive to their destinations, nearly 7 million Americans are expected to fly, and approximately 3.8 million travelers will take alternative modes of transportation. “Travelers should be getting used to crowded highways and airports, as this marks the eighth straight year of new record-high travel volumes for the year-end holidays,” according to Paula Twidale, Vice President, AAA Travel.

The retail sector is the largest private-sector employer in the U.S., contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four jobs, or approximately 42 million working Americans.

This holiday season, consumers are projected to spend a total of $1,048 on average, 4% more than last year.

  • $659 on gifts for family, friends and co-workers
  • $227 on non-gift holiday purchases such as food and decorations
  • $162 on other non-gift purchases for themselves and their families

104.8 million Americans will drive to their holiday destinations, an increase of 3.9% over 2018 and the most on record

6.97 million Americans are expected to fly, an increase of 4.9% over 2018 and the most since 2003

3.81 million Americans will travel by train, bus or cruise ships, an increase of 3% more than last year

Nearly 7 in 10 Americans plan on engaging in a charitable activity this holiday season


Sources: Source: Greysteel Research, AAA, INRIX, NRF