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Press Release
Survey: Despite Shaky Economy, Holiday Shoppers Plan to Spend Same Amount on Gifts as in 2019
30 October, 2020

  • Spending on par with 2019: Households plan to spend an average of $673 on gifts, on par with 2019
  • Surge in online sales: 52% plan to make at least half of purchases online, compared with 42% in 2019
  • Discounts in decline? Consumers expecting to purchase fewer gifts at a discount this year
  • Toys & Games set to experience biggest spending increase, as consumers continue cocooning
  • Jewelry loses its sparkle, with forecast showing it will experience major decline
  • Vacations & Travel projected to experience biggest decline.

Despite the economic fallout from COVID-19, consumers are entering this holiday season intending to spend about $673, according to an estimate from The Conference Board. That is on par with last year’s spending estimate of $675. 

Moreover, the continued inclination to stay at home will bode well for e-commerce: 52 percent of consumers say they plan to make at least half of their purchases online, compared with 42 percent last year. 

The survey of holiday gift spending intentions, based on a probability-design random sample, is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and analytics around what consumers buy and watch. The survey was conducted for The Conference Board in October as part of the Consumer Confidence Survey®.  

“Consumers are entering the holidays with intentions to spend about the same as last year. That is relatively good news at a time when consumer confidence remains below pre-pandemic levels, unemployment is elevated, and the economy appears to be losing momentum heading into the final stretch of 2020,” said Lynn Franco, Senior Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board. “With COVID-19 cases continuing to rise, retailers should prepare for a surge in online traffic and purchases.” 

Consumers are expecting to purchase fewer gifts at a discount this year. In fact, just 30 percent say they expect – at a minimum – to purchase half their gifts at a discount, down from 35 percent last year. While the forecast shows that consumers will spend on average the same amount as in 2019, the results reveal that the percent who plan to spend less increased from last year. Two factors may explain this disparity: first, the timeless behavior of consumers spending more than they initially set out to spend; and second, less social activity this holiday season limiting consumers’ gift-giving circles.


About The Conference Board

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers trusted insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, we are a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity holding 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt status in the United States.



Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global performance management company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers watch and buy. Nielsen's Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services for all devices on which content — video, audio and text — is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry's only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen also provides its clients with analytics that help improve performance. Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90 percent of the world’s population. For more information, visit


For further information contact:

Joseph DiBlasi

Jonathan Liu
1 212 339 0257


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