October 31, 2023

Holiday Shopping Report Rings Cheery News

By Jay Bemis | Advertising Systems Inc.
It’s about that time of year when Hershey’s rolls out its classic holiday commercial featuring 10 of its Kisses chiming along to the sounds of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

If you’re an advertiser or marketer watching the commercial, just think of those cheery Hershey’s Kisses bells as performing for your efforts this holiday season. That’s because a recent report, recognized as an annual bellwether of holiday sales, foresees U.S. retail sales growing by 3.8% during the 2023 shopping period.

The report, from the International Council of Shopping Centers, also predicts a 7.6% increase in food and beverage spending, which would bring total expected spend for the 2023 holiday season— spread among some 235 million consumers — to $1.6 trillion.

From surveys that lead to the annual report, the ICSC found that eight in 10 shoppers plan to spend about the same as or more than they did during the 2022 holiday season.

“We expect a positive holiday shopping season this year as consumers continue to spend in spite of economic headwinds,” Tom McGee, president and CEO of ICSC, said with the report’s recent release.

“This year’s forecast shows the industry is balancing itself out after rapid growth over the last few years, setting retailers up for another successful holiday season.”

ICSC’s holiday report also offered these findings:

Online-Vs-Offline Activity Almost Evenly Split

About 204 million people, or 87% of shoppers, are expected to head to brick-and-mortar stores this holiday season, while three-quarters of those shoppers also are planning to buy online and have those purchases items shipped. Expected spending will be evenly split between online and in-person shopping, ICSC says.

Discount department stores remain the most popular stop for 63% of shoppers, the report said, with traditional department stores the second-most popular destination (34%) and then electronics stores (22%).

Consumers to Start Shopping Earlier

ICSC’s holiday report also found that 79% of consumers plan to start shopping for the holidays earlier than they normally would — one in four actually already had done so in August or earlier. Of those planning to shop earlier, 51% say they’re doing so because of advertisers’ early promotions.

Gift cards remain the most popular category for purchases, ICSC says. They’re on the shopping list of 63% of respondents, followed by apparel and footwear (56%)  and toys and games (49%). In all, 45% of consumers plan to buy F&B gifts such as pre-packaged baskets and alcohol, while electronics buys were cited by 41% of respondents.

“This year will continue the trend of consumers starting their holiday shopping earlier and spreading it out throughout the season,” ICSC’s Tom McGee said.

“While landmark holiday milestones like Black Friday and Thanksgiving Weekend remain important, it’s equally important for retailers to capture consumer interest throughout the season.”

And Now, Back to That Kisses Commercial

The Hershey’s Kisses commercial made its small-screen debut in 1989 and has continued to air every holiday shopping season since, according to foodie website Delish.

The ad could be hailed as an earlier form of video marketing with its focus on creating a feeling of “whimsy” with its viewers  It’s a result of a collaboration between former Hershey’s brands manager John Dunn, San Francisco-based advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather and production company Colossal Pictures.

In the ad, 10 Kisses wrapped in holiday colors form an “orchestra” of bells, following a conductor Kiss that’s wrapped in traditional silver foil in front of them. At the end of the 16-second spot, one red-wrapped “bell” starts to ring a bit frantically until the “conductor” calms it down.

As Delish’s writers note:

“It’s a cute, fun ad that doesn’t seem to have aged a day since the ’80s — we wouldn’t mind seeing it a dozen more times before the new year arrives.”

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