Retailers Will See Holiday Gift Purchases Rising to $33 Billion by Affluent Consumers


Atlanta, GA  September 22, 2015 ─ A year over year increase of 4% in average holiday gift purchases by the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households is indicated by the 27th survey in the original and only continuing series of tracking studies of the mood and spending plans of the affluent, as defined by net worth, conducted by the American Affluence Research Center.

Total gift purchases of about $33 billion are estimated by this survey, now titled the Millionaire Monitor, because it is representative of the 12 million U.S. households that now have a minimum $1 million net worth. Average holiday gift purchases of $2,749 are estimated for each of the affluent households.

The preliminary results of the survey indicate that the average expenditure for holiday gifts by the affluent will be about four times the gift expenditures of the average U.S. household. In comparison to 2014, the percentage of affluent households planning to purchase holiday gifts rose to 96%, a three percentage point increase. Fewer respondents indicated plans to reduce their gift expenditures in 2015 and those that plan to do so report a lower percentage decrease in spending.

The early forecasts of other researchers range from an increase of 2.4% in sales estimated by ShopperTrak to that of eMarketer, which suggests a 5.7%  increase over total 2014 holiday sales to all U.S. households. This is a much larger increase than that experienced in recent years and is based on optimism regarding the declining price of energy and an improved job market. Retailers are taking no chances and have started their holiday promotions earlier than ever and introduced new promotions to boost holiday sales, which account for up to 40 percent of yearly sales volume (National Retail Federation) and 25 percent of annual retail profits (International Council of Shopping Centers).

The different methodologies and assumptions used to develop holiday sales forecasts will make it difficult to find a consensus on what may actually happen. However, the affluent consumers surveyed by the American Affluence Research Center may be the most likely to help the retailers increase holiday sales, as they are the big spenders and those least likely to need credit and debt to finance gift purchases. As the new survey has been conducted in September during a period of volatility and declines in the stock market, the affluent may have been quite conservative in their outlook for gift purchases.

The 12 million households represented by the American Affluence Research Center survey account for about 40% of total consumer spending. Their mood and spending plans are often influenced by changes in the stock market and Washington politics. If things move in a positive direction during the key shopping period after Thanksgiving, the affluent could increase their expenditures as much as 15% or more, as they have done in the past. Consumers, especially the affluent, often spend more than they planned, particularly during the holiday gift season.




Ron Kurtz
(770) 740-2200


About Us: Established in 2001 and with an exclusive focus on the affluent market, The American Affluence Research Center has become a recognized authority and a credible source of reliable insight and marketing information about the values, lifestyles, attitudes, and purchasing behavior of America’s most affluent consumers. AARC conducts the original and only continuous tracking studies of the mood and future spending plans of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households, based on net worth and consistent with the latest research by the Federal Reserve Board, the best source of data on the distribution of wealth in the U.S.

The new survey is based on a national sample representative of the wealthiest 10% of Americans based on net worth of $1 million or more. Net worth has been shown to be a more stable indicator of wealth than income in studies by both the Federal Reserve Board and the Internal Revenue Service.