Executive Summary

We forecast consumer card spending to increase 12% this holiday season vs. 2020 driven most notably by consumer travel spending at +91%. Airline and hotel spending are projected to increase 245% and 163% respectively vs. last year. Outside of travel, restaurant spending projects to be up 43%. Our retail forecast is for 2% growth driven by in-store sales.

Data and Methodology

Commerce Signals, a Verisk Financial business, is a leading source of credit and debit card spend insights, digital audiences, and campaign measurement. Our permissioned and anonymized view of consumer spending includes both Visa and Mastercard, credit and debit for 40 million households. The data includes sales across all channels. This broad and representative view of card spending is the basis for our forecast.

The holiday time period examined in this forecast is from the week of Thanksgiving through the week of Christmas. Our forecasting methodology considers spending since 2018 with weight given to more recent trends. We’ve used the same methodology this year as our past two years of holiday forecasts, which were within 6% of actuals. We assume that the recent sales trends have both labor shortages and supply chain issues baked in and do not make further adjustments to tamp down projections.

Online vs. In-store

While overall consumer spending is expected to increase by 12%, we forecast offline spending to be up 15% and online spending to decline -3%. This is a continuation of recent trends with more people out and about this year vs. last. This willingness to shop in-store will drive Black Friday week sales up 14%. Cyber week projects to be +9%, but interestingly only +2% online vs. +13% in-store. Compared to 2019, cyber week online sales will be up 16% vs. in-store +4%. As unstoppable as the shift to online buying has been over the past several years, it still has a very large 2020 base to hurdle.

Travel

Consumer travel spending projects to increase by 91% vs. last year and +12% vs. 2019 during this holiday season. All areas of travel will show significant growth this holiday season and many even show growth vs. pre-pandemic levels. While this is a continuation of recent trends, it seems fair to say that consumers feel compelled to travel this holiday season after missing many traditional holiday opportunities to gather with family and friends. There is pent up demand. Notably, the Other Transportation category, which includes ride sharing is still far from recovering to pre-pandemic levels (-27% vs. 2019).

Retail

We project retail overall to be up 2% vs. last year. This segment is where online sales have the largest comparison in the base period. Although we forecast online retail sales to be up 25% vs. 2019, that’s actually a decline of -13% vs. 2020. In-store sales project to be up 6% overall vs. last year and up 3% vs. 2019.

Department stores and clothing stores are forecast to be up this most this holiday season with consumer spending up 28% and 25%. Home stores (this MCC code includes home centers as well as interior furnishings) will be up the most vs. 2019 (+39%) and up 11% vs. 2020. We expect spending at electronics stores to be down 23% vs last year. In 2020, electronics store purchases grew 20.3% over 2019.

Restaurants and Bars

Our forecast projects spending at restaurants and bars to be up 43% this holiday season and +13% vs. 2019. This growth will be driven by dining on premises, with card purchases projected to increase 54%. Take-out and delivery will be close to flat vs last year but up 83% vs. 2019.

We wish you a happy and healthy holiday! For more information, please contact us at info@commercesignals.com

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