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Press Release

ICSC Holiday Intentions and Forecast for 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

October 11, 2021

ICSC Forecasts Increased Spending and an Earlier Start to the 2021 Holiday Shopping Season

ICSC expects an 8.9 percent increase in November-December sales as consumers make use of multiple shopping channels  

NEW YORK, NY, October 12, 2021: Shoppers are expected to provide a boost for retailers during the 2021 holiday shopping season, according to ICSC’s Annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey. ICSC forecasts an 8.9 percent year-over-year increase in November-December sales with the total expected to reach $923 billion. The annual Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey found that the average holiday shopper is planning to spend an average of $637 on gifts and other holiday-related items.

The survey found 90 percent of adults, or 231 million people, plan to make holiday-related purchases this year, and 78 percent of shoppers anticipate spending the same or more this holiday season. Additionally, ICSC forecasts that consumers will spend time and money dining out this year with food and beverage establishments seeing a 35.4 percent year-over-year growth.

ICSC anticipates the shopping season will be longer this year, with 75 percent of shoppers expecting to start earlier than they normally would. Among the top reasons for starting earlier this year are to ensure products are available (45 percent), to take advantage of early deals (42 percent), and to ensure products are delivered on time (42 percent).

“Strong retail spending has driven a significant economic recovery this year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and consumers continue to return to pre-pandemic behaviors in the face of uncertainty,” stated Tom McGee, President and CEO of ICSC. “Consumers have remained resilient throughout 2021, which I am confident will continue during and after the holiday shopping season.”    

This year’s holiday shoppers plan to take full advantage of retailers’ omnichannel options which is likely to boost e-commerce sales 13 percent over last year. Even with that growth, 85 percent of shoppers plan to spend money in physical stores. Of the shoppers who intend to use click-and-collect, 72 percent say they are likely to make additional purchases while picking up their original online order.

The decision by consumers to shop in-store continues to be driven by the ability to see, touch and try on merchandise (37 percent); the ability to get the item immediately (34 percent); and the ability to browse for new gift ideas (30 percent). More than three-fourths of consumers will visit malls and shopping centers to shop, dine and use personal services.

Deals and promotions will remain an important part of retailers’ strategy this holiday season, with 80 percent of shoppers saying deals play a role in their holiday purchases. Nearly half of consumers say that the holiday season will encourage them to make more trips to physical stores and 38 percent plan their shopping around specific promotional events.

“Concerns around supply chain issues, shipping delays and inflation are weighing heavily on the minds of consumers and driving them to begin their holiday shopping earlier than usual,” McGee added. “We expect to see strong consumer activity despite these challenges, but it’s critical that retailers and consumers alike plan ahead and do everything they can to mitigate supply chain issues to ensure a successful holiday season.”


The ICSC Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey was conducted online by Engine Insights on behalf of ICSC September 24 – 26, 2021. The survey represents a demographically representative sample of 1,005 respondents.

About ICSC

The member organization for industry advancement, ICSC promotes and elevates the marketplaces and spaces where people shop, dine, work, play and gather as foundational and vital ingredients of communities and economies.  ICSC produces experiences that create connections and catalyze deals; aggressively advocates to shape public policy; develops high-impact marketing and public relations that influence opinion; provides an enduring platform for professional success; and creates forward-thinking content with actionable insights – all of which drive industry innovation and growth.  For more information, please visit www.ICSC.com.


MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hudson, Director, Public Relations, ICSC, Email: media@icsc.com

By Keith Hudson

Director, Public Relations