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NRF Study Projects Post-Election Holiday Shopping Surge

Election-season politics are taking up ad space typically used to get holiday shopping on the minds of consumers—but observers predict a post-election surge as Americans finally get into the holiday shopping spirit. And much of that spending will be on gift cards—both as gifts for others and for self-use. The National Retail Federation (NRF)’s 2016 Holiday Shopping Trends report projects consumers will spend an average of $935.58 during the holiday shopping season—a downtick from the record per-consumer average of $952.58 set in 2015, but still the second-highest figure since the NRF began tracking the data in 2004.

In a separate NRF flash poll conducted last week, more than a quarter of respondents said the election will impact their spending plans for the holidays. In addition, 43 percent say they’re being more cautious with their spending due to the uncertainty of the election season. But that should change once the election is over, with 41.4 percent of respondents planning to start shopping in November—by far the most popular month to do so, according to the holiday shopping study.

“Retailers should prepare for a rush of consumers in the weeks following the presidential election as they get more economic and political certainty and are looking to take advantage of promotions and deals that are too good to pass up for their friends, family and even themselves,” predicted Matthew Shay, president and CEO, NRF.

Self-spending will be a major theme this holiday season, with 58 percent of consumers planning to buy for themselves this holiday season, expecting to spend an average of $139.61—up 4 percent from last year and the second-highest self-spending level since 2004. To capitalize on the self-spending urge, retailers are offering deals and discounts on items consumers want to give as gifts, hoping to compel them to purchase those items for themselves as well, the NRF noted. That trend could bode well for gift cards, which continue to be the most sought-after gift—cited as a desired gift by 61 percent of respondents—marking the 10th straight year gift cards topped the list. Gift cards likely will be popular with self-spenders this season, too. A recent study from the Retail Gift Card Association found that one in three U.S. consumers had bought a gift card for their own use, with qualifying for special loyalty deals or discounts the most common reason cited for doing so.

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