June 14, 2017

Online is Closing the In-Store Gap in Holiday Shopping Reports NPD

An increasing number of online shoppers are likely to spend more than those opting to walk into a store

Port Washington, N.Y. – November 1, 2016 – Americans are increasingly turning to online shopping as a channel for their holiday season purchases. According to global information company The NPD Group’s 2016 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, 71 percent of consumers, and 79 percent of Millennials, plan to do some of their holiday shopping online this year.

“Online continues to change the game for retailers because it goes beyond convenience by bringing value and timing into the equation,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “Brick-and-mortar retailers still have the benefit of drawing the majority of holiday shoppers with the in-store experience, but it is clear they are going to have to put their best foot forward in order to maintain a hold on Holiday 2016 and future seasons.”

NPD Group Chart | Gap Online Shoppings

Consumers aren’t just dipping their toes in e-commerce – they’re anticipating shopping more through online channels this year. Consumers anticipate doing an average of 38 percent of their holiday shopping online in 2016.

The online channels’ market share will likely be strongest among Millennials and Gen Xers, with each estimating they’ll do 42 percent of their holiday shopping online.

Those clicking their way through their holiday shopping lists will also be spending more: online shoppers anticipate spending an average of $710 this holiday season, roughly 60 percent more than the $440 those sticking with stores plan to spend.

Online shoppers will buy the same products as in-store shoppers (mostly), but with social input
Clothing/accessories, entertainment, and toys are the top ranked categories in both online and in-store segments, though – as might be expected – the tech/electronics category (ranked 4th among online shoppers) is a considerably lower priority among those avoiding e-commerce (ranked 7th).

Consumers are also going online to learn about the products they’re on the hunt for. Among those who will research products this holiday season, over seven in 10 plan to do online research and nearly half expect they’ll look at consumer reviews. One in four anticipate utilizing social media (higher among Gen Z: 43 percent, and Millennials: 38 percent), while 14 percent plan on using mobile apps.

Holiday shoppers are picking up their phones
Mobile apps won’t just be used for product research. More mobile phones will be coming out of consumers’ pockets to shop this holiday season: 14 percent of U.S. shoppers – including 29 percent of Millennials – say they’ll use their mobile phones to buy gifts this year. This may not be a staggering number on its own, but it’s up more than 130 percent from last year.

“We are at a point where retail must embrace the online shopping culture, not just try to battle it, especially during the critical holiday shopping season,” added Cohen. “There are opportunities to be had in the relationship between brick and click – maximizing the emotional component of shopping in-store, while utilizing the convenience and flexibility of shopping online will create a complete shopping experience for the consumer and a happy year-end for retail.”

January 25, 2017

From Board Games to Toothbrushes: Five Holiday Hits You'd Never Expect

What was hot during Holiday 2016? It’s a question brands and retailers all want to answer as they reflect on the holiday’s successes and misses in preparation for Holiday 2017. Our research team was particularly interested in understanding which products sold substantially faster during Holiday 2016 compared to Holiday 2015. So we took a look at our Store-Level Enabled data for the six-week period from Black Friday through the end of 2016 compared to the same period in 2015. We focused on velocity per item as our main metric, while also taking into consideration volume, dollar growth, and changes in distribution and assortment. Read on to find out which products sold fastest in Holiday 2016.

But First: Velocity

It’s not just how much you’re selling; it’s how fast. Velocity measures how fast something sells. By capturing store-level data feeds directly from retailers, we’re able to measure velocity, which tells you the rate at which products are selling for a better measure of performance than sales or share. And we can report velocity below a national level, so you can monitor sales by retailer, region, or market. We used the velocity per item metric to identify some of the fastest-selling products during Holiday 20161.

1. Adult Games

Did your New Year’s Eve culminate in a rousing game of Speak Out!, or was it just us? If you thought board games were dead—think again. Whether it’s nostalgia for simpler times or a sweet escape from our world of screens, games are in vogue. The adult games category experienced a 138-percent increase in velocity per item (twice that of any other toys category) in Holiday 2016. Not only was this category fast-turning—it also experienced significant year-over-year dollar growth, had a slight increase in distribution, and saw a large increase in assortment.

Juli Lennett, our senior vice president and toys industry analyst, vouched for games/puzzles as the fastest-growing toy super category of 2016. “Games are HOT; the segment grew 21 percent in 2016, and 12 of the 13 games subclasses grew in 2016,” said Juli. She attributes this trend to Americans’ desire for fun experiences, especially when they can be shared with friends and family via social media. One of the most talked about toys, and the best-selling adult game, was Speak Out!, whose success was driven by YouTube. If you’re not familiar with this game, we strongly encourage you to check it out.

Adult games grew in many markets, but among the top 25 markets based on sales, the category turned the fastest in Boston for the second year in a row. Given the number of colleges and universities in Boston, this trend points to the powerful impact of Boston’s Millennials. Our data suggests retailers consider stocking up on more adult games in this market next holiday—or in any market with a high population of young adults, since games seem to be a big hit with this cohort.

2. Portable Beverageware

When it comes to affordable and useful holiday gifts, you can’t go wrong with portable beverageware. We’re talking insulated bottles, water canteens, tumblers, and more. Home Industry Analyst and Executive Director Joe Derochowski explained that many Americans turned to portable beverageware for gifts in Holiday 2016, to help friends and family be healthier. During the holiday season, it was among the top housewares categories in both dollar sales and growth over 2015 holiday levels. The category also experienced a 14-percent increase in velocity per item from the six-week holiday period in 2015 to 2016.

Portable beverageware certainly makes for a useful and practical gift for anyone. Perhaps you’ve received a water bottle or travel mug that’s become your daily accessory. Maybe it has a logo of a favorite brand, place visited, or university, or maybe it’s customized. Perhaps it simply keeps the contents hot or cold for hours, or perhaps it’s eco-friendly. Whatever the case, everyone needs to drink fluids, so portable beverageware works for everyone.

Which Americans are stocking up on these products? The South Census Region has demonstrated tremendous growth in portable beverageware compared to other regions. It experienced 80 percent year-over-year holiday sales growth. The Central, Northeast, and West Census Regions only increased 27 percent, 16 percent, and 10 percent respectively. And when considering velocity per item, regional growth is even more disparate: the South increased portable beverageware velocity per item by 40 percent from Holiday 2015 to 2016. In contrast, the Central U.S. was relatively flat, and the Northeast and West showed declines.

Though portable beverageware's Holiday 2015 velocity per item in the South lagged far behind other regions, velocity per item is now comparable across all U.S. Census Regions, indicating the South jumping on the hydration bandwagon and catching up to the rest of the country. Retailers should consider increasing assortment of these products next holiday season—and even more so in dryer, hotter, U.S. regions.

3. Electric Toothbrushes

Another aspect of health consumers looked for in their Holiday 2016 shopping related to oral hygiene. The electric toothbrush stood out in the small domestic appliance category with its increased velocity per item of 11 percent from Holiday 2015 to 2016. Joe Derochowski also called out the electric toothbrush for having the highest dollar growth in the personal care category during Holiday 2016. Similar to portable beverageware, it’s one that gives the gift of health. What’s more, Americans may not be willing to splurge on a nice-to-have oral care tool for themselves. That’s why it proves to be a popular gift, helping loved ones feel and look good.

As it turns out, New Englanders seem to value pearly whites more than other Americans—a trend that has increased from Holiday 2015. Electric toothbrushes turned fastest in New England during Holiday 2016—20 percent faster, to be exact—than the next closest region.  

4. Smart Entry

Smart entry products flew off the shelves during Holiday 2016—and at a greater speed than during Holiday 2015. Because what’s more important than the safety of your home and convenience for your guests during the holidays? Smart entry is gaining momentum in the U.S. market; December sales skyrocketed 161 percent, and velocity per item jumped up 96 percent from 2015 to 2016. Ben Arnold, our consumer electronics executive director and technology industry analyst, described the majority of the category’s sales and growth as driven by smart doorbells, followed by smart locks—two fairly different products with differing price points.

The holidays are a time for travel and hosting, and smart locks make it easy for guests to enter and leave hosts’ homes. Video doorbells even allow home owners to see and speak with visitors from anywhere, anytime. While it may be difficult to get someone the doorbell of their dreams as a gift, smart entry products proved popular as self-gifts this past holiday. In Holiday 2016, San Antonio residents went crazy for smart entry compared to last holiday. Among the top 25 markets based on smart entry sales, the San Antonio DMA was 11th in terms sales, and it had the fastest-turning—and fastest-growing—smart entry product velocity per item.

5. Automotive Booster Packs

Automotive Director and Industry Analyst Nathan Shipley said road safety proved a popular gift category in Holiday 2016. U.S. shoppers got excited about automotive booster packs that quickly start a vehicle in emergency situations. One of the top-turning products in the automotive aftermarket category, the booster pack increased its velocity per item by 50 percent during Holiday 2016 compared to the prior holiday.  An increase in promotions along with weather more likely to cause dead batteries drove this trend.

If you’ve ever left your car’s headlights on all day and parked in a low-traffic area, you know the feeling of being stranded and desperately seeking out a stranger to jumpstart your car. So for friends and family on the road a lot, these booster packs make for a practical gift. Many of these packs fit right in a car’s glove compartment.

Though the New England Census Division was the smallest in terms of booster pack dollar volume in Holiday 2015 and 2016, it experienced the highest velocity per item in Holiday 2016 and highest velocity growth (72 percent) from 2015 levels.


These were just some of the fast-turning products of Holiday 2016 across the toys, home, and tech industries. For more information on how you can use velocity to better measure performance for your categories, retailers, regions, or territories, contact your NPD account representative, call 866-444-1411, or email contactnpd@npd.com.

[1]Holiday is defined as the six weeks encompassing Black Friday and Christmas for all industries except tech, which uses the month of December.

January 12, 2017

Holiday 2016 Ended with a Ho-Ho-Hum – Retail Failed to Sustain Momentum and Maximize the Final Week of the Holiday Shopping Season

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report 

Following the banner retail sales week leading up to Christmas and Hanukkah, the final week of 2016 returned to the lethargic trend seen through most of the holiday season. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories across in-store and online channels, dollar sales in the ninth and final week of the 2016 holiday shopping season  were 5 percent lower than the same week in 2015. Cumulatively, dollar sales for the nine weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 1 percent behind the nine weeks of the 2015 season.

Week Ending December 31, 2016*
Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the ninth week of Holiday 2016 were 5 percent lower than the ninth week of Holiday 2015.
  • Toys (+10%), and Prestige Fragrance (+2%) were the two industries that managed to maintain their positive momentum from the prior week.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Top Performing Categories

  • Sport Leisure Footwear
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Home Automation
  • Games/Puzzles
  • Total PC’s (driven by Notebooks)

“Despite year-over-year declines, the week after Christmas proved to be just as valuable as the first two weeks in November. Even with all the early promotions that retailers offered up this year, consumers still found post-Christmas shopping appealing, which ultimately resulted in retail moving a lot of merchandise at deep discounts,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “The final week of the holiday season remains an important part of the equation, going beyond gift card redemption and exchanges – gift cards and unwanted holiday gifts bring shoppers into stores they may not frequent, giving stores the opportunity to introduce themselves to a new audience. The dynamics of holiday shopping are changing, and retailers need to learn how to better leverage this post-holiday opportunity.”

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances.

Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

January 5, 2017

The Week Before Christmas’16 Was the Merriest of All For Retail – Double-Digit Growth in Week 8 Regained Most of What Was Lost Earlier in the Holiday Season

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

Consumers gave retailers what they were wishing for in the week leading up to Christmas, a sales boost. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories across in-store and online channels, dollar sales in the eighth week of the 2016 holiday shopping season  were 16 percent higher than the same week in 2015. While the eighth week outperformed the historically peak week of Thanksgiving, cumulatively, dollar sales in the first eight weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were still 1 percent behind the first eight weeks of the 2015 season.

Week Ending December 24, 2016*
Overall Performance

Dollar sales in the eighth week of Holiday 2016 were 16 percent higher than the eighth week of Holiday 2015.

  • Toys: +26%
  • Apparel: +17%
  • Prestige Fragrance: +16%
  • Technology: +11%
  • Athletic Footwear: +8%

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Top Performing Categories

  • Men’s Apparel
  • Women’s Apparel
  • Total PC’s (Notebooks)
  • Dolls
  • Infant/Toddler/Preschool Toys

“The eighth week of the 2016 holiday season included two more shopping days before Christmas than in 2015, delayed Hanukkah shopping that occurred at the beginning of December last year, and a shipping deadline crunch that brought more action into stores for online pick-ups and last-minute impulse buys – it was a perfect storm of holiday shopping behavior. Toys and apparel were the clear winners of the week with double-digit growth that more than made up for what was lost in prior weeks,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “The final week of the 2016 season will take on new meaning with continued Hanukkah shopping, post-Christmas celebrations, and consumers beginning to cash in those gift cards that played such a big role this holiday.”

Coming Next Week:

The final Holiday Shopping Bag Results of the season, looking at the week starting on Christmas Day, including most of Hanukah, and ending on New Year’s Eve.

*Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of pparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances.

Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

December 29, 2016

Holiday’16 Shopping Trend Took a Detour in the Seventh Week of the Season – Retailers Continued to Chase Growth as Shoppers Enjoyed Deep Discounts

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

The final holiday shopping push appears to be on a delay compared to last year, and deep discounts further delayed the benefits for retailers. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories across in-store and online channels, dollar sales in the seventh week of the 2016 holiday shopping season  were 11 percent lower than the same week in 2015. Cumulatively, dollar sales in the first seven weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 4 percent behind the first seven weeks of the 2015 holiday season. 

Week Ending December 17, 2016*

Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the seventh week of Holiday 2016 were 11 percent lower than the seventh week of Holiday 2015.
  • Each of the five industries being tracked — Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances — saw dollar sales declines, the steepest of the holiday season so far.
  • Apparel performed the best of the five industries being tracked, with the lowest decline for the week.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Top Performing Categories

  • Home Automation
  • PC’s (driven by Notebooks)
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Games/Puzzles
  • Instant Print Cameras


“Discounts are used by retailers to either manage excess inventory or stimulate sluggish selling, and this holiday it is certainly the latter. However, discounts have been too readily available this holiday season to offset declines compared to last year,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “Retailers are trying to compete across all channels with the same merchandise so price becomes the focus. The level of discounting in play this holiday season is making it a challenge to capture the volume seen last year.”


* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances

Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

December 21, 2016

During the Sixth Week Lull of Holiday’16, In-Store and Online Sales Shortfall Deepened – New Dynamics and The Final Shopping Push Will be Critical

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

The annual holiday sales lull was deeper than last year, increasing the challenge facing retail to beat or meet last year’s results. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories across in-store and online channels, dollar sales in the sixth week of the 2016 holiday shopping season  were 5 percent lower than the same week in 2015. Cumulatively, dollar sales in the first six weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 4 percent behind the first six weeks of the 2015 holiday season.

Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the sixth week of Holiday 2016 were 5 percent lower than the sixth week Holiday 2015.
  • Apparel was the only industry to outperform the same week last year, but was only up 1 percent.
  • Toys saw their steepest declines of the season so far, down 9 percent compared to the same week in 2015.

Week Ending December 10, 2016*

Top Performing Categories

  • Women’s Outerwear
  • PC’s/Notebooks
  • Home Automation
  • Men’s Outerwear
  • Stereo Headphones

“The holiday lull of week six is deeper than retailers want, but they drove it with deeper and deeper discounts. This year’s trend clearly demonstrates how extreme promotions, now most noticeable in toys and electronics, are steering retail off the path of growth,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “As we pass the shipping deadline, brick-and-mortar will recapture some of what online continues to steal, doing so by emphasizing online shopping with in-store pick-up. Colder weather across the country also changes the equation, starting with an awakening for outerwear sales. In this final holiday push, we will begin to see new factors, beyond promotion, impacting holiday sales.”

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances

Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

For more information, or to speak with Marshal Cohen, please contact Janine Marshall, 516-625-2356 or janine.marshall@npd.com, and visit NPD’s Holiday Insights page.

December 21, 2016

Holiday Wardrobe Malfunction?

The first half of this holiday shopping season proved to be a challenging start for the apparel industry. Despite early consumer intentions pointing to apparel as an area of increased spending this holiday season – a 7 percent increase in planned spending over 2015* – that spending doesn’t appear to have happened yet. NPD’s Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report has shown declines in apparel sales from week- to- week when compared to the same time last year, with few exceptions.

Over Thanksgiving week, apparel sales were not as low as earlier in the season, but still down 2 percent against last year and failing to gain momentum against the competition of more exciting and innovative categories for holiday. There were several apparel categories that gained some momentum during this peak week. Within women's dresses, swimwear, socks, and workout wear for women, the big winner. In men's apparel, it was a trip back to traditions with pajamas garnering the most growth for the week, followed by tailored clothing (includes dress and sport shirts, suits and jackets).

In the week after Thanksgiving – Cyber Week – apparel sales fell 5 percent below the same week in 2015. Abundant and deep promotions certainly got the attention of consumers, but it wasn’t enough. Apparel got a slight boost the following week (ending December 10), during the usual holiday lull, with a 1 percent increase in dollar sales compared to last year. Women’s and men’s outerwear were among the top performers, so the weather forecast likely played the biggest role in this shift.

The apparel industry has discounted themselves right off any possible path toward growth. This, combined with the lack of a ‘must have’ fashion item keeps apparel chasing last year’s results. While apparel is not alone in this holiday’s conundrum, the category has a prominent role in holiday retail performance, with 66 percent of consumers planning to purchase clothing during the season*.

There is still time to avoid a complete holiday wardrobe malfunction. In the final stretch of holiday shopping, which typically results in a sales peak close to that of Thanksgiving/Black Friday week, consumers will continue to look for deals, but they are also looking for those last-minute special gifts. The emphasis at retail needs to move toward delivering the products consumers are looking for, not just the price they are looking for.

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report
*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey

December 20, 2016

Holiday Shopping Sprees Are Just Getting Started

Hold your horses. Early forecasts surrounding holiday spending this year may have come too soon, our partner CivicScience has found. People who expect to spend more money this holiday season has increased. In October, only 16 percent of adults said they would spend more this holiday season over last. As of this month, that number has climbed to 21 percent. There are a few possible reasons for this.

December 19, 2016

How Far Along Are Shoppers in Their Holiday Shopping?

With less than one week to go before Christmas, Americans are on the home stretch with their holiday shopping. Our partner, CivicScience, has been busy polling U.S. adult consumers on their holiday shopping progress since early October—because it’s never too early to get in the holiday spirit.

Similar to Holiday 2015, the needle shifted from a minority (43 percent) of shoppers done or almost done with their shopping to a majority (62 percent) between the second and third week of December (from December 12 to December 18, 2016).

As of December 18, 86 percent of Americans had started their holiday shopping—three percentage points higher than last year’s level. Breaking it down, 14 percent of holiday shoppers haven’t started yet, 14 percent have done a little shopping, 9 percent are about halfway done, 35 percent almost done, and 27 percent have finished entirely.

With 73 percent of shoppers still getting through their lists nearly 6 days before Christmas, Americans still have some serious work to do before they can relax this holiday!

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

December 19, 2016

A Natural Holiday

My sister is a millennial mom and, like many millennial moms, she tries to keep her family’s impact on the environment to a minimum. As an example, when giving out Christmas gift ideas for her daughter, she asked for no plastic toys. Plastic is bad for the environment, she explained. Yeah, I get that. But trust me when I tell you, finding non-plastic toys is more challenging that it seems. 

The ideology behind my sister’s gift request is one that is permeating practically every industry on the market today. In beauty specifically, words like sustainable, organic, and natural are keywords in many of the brands and products experiencing success. This especially holds true in skincare. 

Natural brands have long been experiencing their heyday within the skincare category, and given the current consumer sentiment, their momentum will continue to thrive -- even during the holidays. While the season may be more traditionally tied to items like plastic toys, electronic gadgets, and apparel, natural beauty in the prestige skincare market has proven that it has a place under the Christmas tree. In fact, natural brands and products have outpaced total skincare performance during the holiday month of December for the past two years, growing at double the rate of the category.

What does this mean for skincare, and for beauty as a whole? The bottom line is, we need to acknowledge and react. Not all brands can be natural, but most brands can be sustainable and/or safe from harmful ingredients. The consumers of today, and tomorrow, are going to demand more of this accountability from the brands they buy, whether in beauty, toys or any industry in between. It would be nice if one day plastic toys are outnumbered by toys made of more environmentally friendly materials. The planet will benefit… and it would make my Christmas shopping so much easier.

December 19, 2016

Holiday Isn’t Just for Slippers and Snow Boots

Why should ugly sweaters and pajamas get all the attention? Holiday is a great opportunity to promote footwear as well. Almost one-quarter of annual, total footwear dollar sales are generated in November and December*, and for certain categories that percentage is steadily increasing. In addition, last month almost half of consumers reported that they planned to purchase footwear as a gift this holiday season**. 

It makes sense that the last two months of the year are crucial to the footwear business, because in many parts of the country that’s when cold weather boot sales have historically kicked in, with higher-than-average price points driving more dollars. However, in recent years, as seasons have blurred together and winter weather has held off (with some exceptions, of course), seasonal product sales have held off as well.  For example, holiday*** accounted for 43 percent of annual cold/all-weather boot dollar sales in 2015, down from 50 percent in 2013. Slippers, a key holiday category, saw a similar drop:  47 percent of sales were done during holiday in 2015 versus 53 percent in 2013. 

On the other end of the spectrum, holiday is gaining significance for some non-seasonal footwear categories.  Athletic categories - both performance and sport leisure - saw over 40 percent of sales generated during holiday 2015 compared to just over 30 percent in 2013.

As sneakers have become more important to the footwear market overall, holiday has become more important to sneakers. In fact, 20 percent of consumers who planned to purchase footwear as a gift this holiday season said they planned to purchase sneakers/athletic shoes, compared to 15 percent who said they planned to purchase slippers, and just 11 percent who said they planned to purchase cold weather or snow boots**.  In addition, although just 5 percent of consumers mentioned their intent to purchase work/occupational/safety footwear as a gift, the holiday’s percentage of this category’s annual sales has increased during the last two years, perhaps as necessities end up on gift lists, and those replenishing for themselves take advantage of widespread promotions. 

As we head into the final weeks of holiday 2016, I expect that we will see a continuation of the above shifts. As the last two months of the year become more important selling periods for non-winter footwear categories, the industry has an opportunity to further increase their holiday appeal through innovative packaging and marketing programs – tactics that have typically been reserved for winter boots and slippers. And remember: self-gifting (something I’m very familiar with) is just as important as gifting to others, so driving both can make for a very successful season. 

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service, Annual 2015

**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / November 2016 Omnibus

***November and December

December 15, 2016

A Holiday Feast in Beauty Consumers Indulge in Select Categories Across the Industry

Port Washington, NY, December 15, 2016 – The U.S. prestige beauty industry is off to a slightly slower start this holiday season, with year-to-date sales up 6 percent through October, or 1 percentage point less than this time last year, according to global information company The NPD Group; however, this should not be interpreted as discouraging news. It is a case of ‘feast or famine’ for the industry this holiday season, and while consumers may not indulge in every makeup, fragrance, and skincare category, they will have more than their fill when it comes to others.

“A binge mentality is taking hold within the beauty industry. This began with makeup, as more consumers are using more products than we have ever seen. The mentality is moving into skincare, as consumers look to prepare the face and lips to be makeup ready. In fragrance, consumers crave fresh and wholesome experiences, and are treating themselves to the products that satisfy this taste,” said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group. “While sales show the industry moving at a slower pace so far this holiday season, consumers will binge on a number of categories through December, and the industry will still experience growth in the fourth quarter.”

Can’t Get Enough Makeup
Much of the buzz generated online, especially on social media, has created prominence of categories across makeup. Driving much of the gains are brows (+35 percent), lip color (+21 percent), and other face products including contouring and sculpting kits (+33 percent).

“As the foremost appearance category of beauty, makeup has been the leader of industry gains and the source drawing consumers into the beauty industry,” said Grant. “Makeup fourth quarter sales have outsold fragrance sales for the last two years, and this is likely to happen again this holiday season.”

A Modern Spin on Classic Fragrances
Looking at the prestige fragrance category, it is the popularity of traditional flankers that is particularly potent. Dollar sales of these existing fragrances reinvented grew 18 percent year-to-date through October compared to 2015, outpacing the overall fragrance market’s 2 percent growth. A prominent example which launched this fall and just in time for the holidays is the Chanel No. 5 spinoff, No. 5 L’eau.

“New and lighter designer classics reimagined for a younger generation will spark the fragrance category this holiday season,” said Grant.

Scenting Beyond the Body
The home scents category is growing at an 18 percent pace so far in 2016, and all of its segments are experiencing growth, including candles (+14 percent) and diffusers (+21 percent). This category is especially important around the holidays, as data from NPD’s Scentiments found that home fragrance is most important to consumers when company is expected. At the same time, home scents are likely to make popular gift items, as sales of home ancillary gift sets are up 44 percent.     

“In fragrance, consumer engagement continues to expand to embrace the personal and holistic experience beyond the body. Scent engagement is no longer just a singular, individual encounter, but a shared experience in the home,” said Grant.

The Little Things in Skincare
The topline trends reveal a fraction of what is happening within the prestige skincare market, as it is specific segments below the surface that consumers are turning to for their appearance needs. These growth drivers include lip treatment (+22 percent), masks (+22 percent), and other face products including complexion treatments (+13 percent).

“In skincare, primary care and prevention bond with makeup preparation to offset losses from the continued declines in anti-aging. The little categories we once ignored or overlooked are now the giants of growth in skincare,” said Grant.


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / U.S. Prestige Beauty Total Measured Market, January-October 2016

December 14, 2016

Deep 2016 Cyber Week Promotions and Post-Black Friday Lull Led to Steep Drop in Sales – Retailers Will Need to Do More to Catch Up With Last Holiday

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

Despite the online promotion noise, the post-Black Friday lull was even quieter than last year. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories, dollar sales in the fifth week of the 2016 holiday shopping season, which included Cyber Monday, were 5 percent lower than the same week in 2015. Cumulatively, dollar sales in the first five weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season were 3 percent behind the first five weeks of the 2015 holiday season.

Week Ending December 3, 2016*
Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the fifth week of Holiday 2016 were 5 percent lower than the fifth week Holiday 2015.
  • The only industry to outperform the same week last year was Athletic Footwear, up 2 percent.
  • For the first time since the second week of the 2016 holiday season, Toys and Prestige Fragrance dollar sales were lower than the same week in 2015, down 5 percent and 6 percent respectively.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Top Performing Categories

  • Total PC’s
  • Home Automation
  • Sport Leisure Shoes
  • Wearables (‘Top 5’ list debut)
  • Outdoor & Sport Toys

“The fifth week of Holiday 2016 brought the customary post-Black Friday lull, along with deeper discounts and more abundant week-long deals than in the past. Bigger discounts mean deeper holes to climb out of to match last year’s sales numbers,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “Late adopters are checking in on last year’s wearable tech trends – marketers are clearly challenged to keep consumers engaged, which is further complicated by the increasing need to compete across multiple channels. However, retailers cannot continue to discount themselves off of path to growth.”

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances
Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

For more information, or to speak with Marshal Cohen, please contact Janine Marshall, 516-625-2356 or janine.marshall@npd.com, and visit NPD’s Holiday Insights page.

December 14, 2016

Holiday Shopping Trends: 2016 Recap (Infographic)

Our partner CivicScience has been tracking a variety of consumers’ holiday shopping habits this season – everything from Black Friday shopping plans to the gifts people would most like to receive. Take a look at their Holiday Shopping 2016 Recap Infographic to help jump-start your 2017 planning.

December 13, 2016

Sneakernomics: NYC Adidas Store Raises the Bar for Sneaker Retail

Adidas has opened its largest store in the world on Fifth Avenue in New York City and it is amazing.

On the morning of the grand opening, my phone started to light up with messages saying there were hundreds of people in line to get into the new store. I rushed over and found a huge but orderly crowd of Adidas fans waiting in line.

When I returned that afternoon for my tour with Adidas executives, the lines still had not gone down.

The design of the store is meant to emulate a football stadium, complete with chain link fencing, ramps, rough concrete floors, and exposed beams. Adidas made an effort to retain and expose the building’s original raw design, creating authenticity as well as maintaining a commitment to sustainably.

While there are elevators in the back of the store, the primary means of moving between floors are metal stairs, just like at your local field. Even the fitting rooms were designed to look like a locker room.

At 45,000 square feet and four floors, the Adidas branding is overwhelming. The 350+ employees were well-trained and extremely enthusiastic.

On the lower level, customers can find the Turf, where they can test and experience Adidas cleated footwear. There is also a custom print shop to create your own jerseys. The men’s assortment was featured on this level.

The first floor highlighted a launch zone showcasing the new Harden V.1, which released there ahead of the rest of the country by two days. The first floor also had a juice bar and personal trainers.

Women’s is the focus of the second floor, with a track to test running shoes and a bra and pant bar. The assortment in women’s was well thought out and curated.

The top floor is home to Young Athletes and Originals and had the greatest crowd during my visit. This floor also had a “miadidas studio” where customers can customize more than a dozen styles of top-selling adidas shoes. At the grand opening, fans, for the first time, could customize the highly sought after UltraBoost shoe.

Adidas executives told me the hottest-selling products in the store were the Parley products, which are made of the recycled plastic ocean waste.

All in all, the new Adidas store in mid-town represents a clear brand message and a focused assortment of fashion right products. It was a complete Adidas experience.

Job well done!

December 13, 2016

Can Black Friday reshape the European toy market?

Black Friday is not a tradition in Europe.

In fact, it makes no cultural sense. We do not celebrate Thanksgiving. It is a working day. We do not rise at dawn to shop the Friday after Thanksgiving. It is a working day.

“What is Black Friday?” my mother asked me this year. “Explain it to me.”

Fair question.

But even though it makes no sense, Black Friday has become an event in Europe. It’s just a different event. Not only is it often called Black Friday in English, rather than, say, Vendredi Noir, but confusingly, it often doesn’t refer to a Friday at all. In the U.S., Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November, and Black Friday is specifically the day after. Here in Europe, we have Black Friday weekend sales or even Black Friday week sales.

Still, the concept seems to be catching on. More and more European retailers are participating, and some are reporting increased shopping. Argos, the largest retailer for toys in the U.K., reported that online sales were up 50% over Black Friday 2015.

And that raises some interesting questions for the European toy market. In the U.S., Black Friday is traditionally known as the day that retailers start to turn a profit (hence the name, as they move from red ink to black ink). It is the day that kicks off the holiday shopping season, with toys a huge part of that. Could Black Friday do the same in Europe?

If so, it could spread out toy sales over more weeks, which could be a particular boon in markets where consumers are known to shop at the last minute, such as Spain. This would not only help retailers resupply, which is impossible in a last-minute rush, but could it also increase the actual market size? With more weeks spent shopping, might people actually buy more?

Or could it delay consumers even further as they wait for the massive discounts before starting their holiday shopping and reduce market size as a result?

In the U.S., big-ticket items and electronics do particularly well on Black Friday. Might Black Friday change the mix of toys bought in Europe? Already, electronics retailers such as Currys PC World are reporting Black Friday sales in Europe up 40% over 2015.

And then there’s me. I shopped on Black Friday. I spent more than I planned on gifts for my children, but I also got more than I expected. I’m much poorer, but I’m a happy shopper. The data seems to indicate that I’m not alone.

December 13, 2016

Consumers Continue to Color this Holiday Season

It was about two years ago that we at NPD detected the adult coloring book trend beginning to take flight and, alongside this trend, sales of colored pencils, markers, and even gel pens soared. During the first month of the 2015 holiday season, sales of coloring pages were up 70 percent and sales of complementary products like colored pencil sets grew over 100 percent. Demand for these items was so strong that some manufacturers were unable to turn around enough colored pencils to meet the consumer demand. Exactly one year later and the consumer demand for these products has continued.

Sales of adult coloring-related items have reached and surpassed October 2015 levels. Activities related to coloring have been linked to health and wellness, a lifestyle trend that is having a positive influence across industries. To satiate the expansive color palettes they crave while bringing life to the coloring books’ intricate designs, consumers are buying large-pack sizes of colored pencil sets, with the greatest dollar growth coming from 36, 50, and 100-pack sets. Gel and porous pens are also seeing a boost from this trend. Gel, a category which currently makes up 44 percent of all traditional pen sales, is driving growth in the pen category. During October, gel pen sales rose by 16 percent. This growth was likely amplified by the “InkTober Initiative,” a worldwide drawing challenge conceived in 2009 in which artists commit to producing one ink drawing per day for the month of October. As more consumers get in touch with their artistic side this holiday season, we will continue to see sales of coloring pages and complementary products rise into 2017.

Whether for themselves or as holiday gifts, consumers continue to purchase coloring-related items. The concept of coloring has become so popular that it has stretched beyond solo coloring, to coloring in groups or as a family. On another social level, Instagram and Pinterest have made it easier than ever for consumers to share the art they create. As new coloring, drawing, and painting trends take hold, manufacturers will need to reinvent and innovate, to meet consumers’ demand in finding different ways to create and share art as a means of personal expression.


*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Weekly Retail Tracking Service, 4 weeks ending October 29, 2016

December 12, 2016

Small Money Accessories Cash in on Small Handbag Growth, Reports NPD

Largest small accessory dollar growth occurring among high-end products, and in the South

Port Washington, NY, December 12, 2016 — Sales of smaller size handbags are on the rise and smaller money accessories, like card cases and coin purses, are cashing in on the trend. According to The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Dollar sales of money accessories – other than wallets – increased 13 percent, to almost $23 million in the 12 months ending October 2016.

Despite overall declines in the women handbag category, small and mini-sized options were the largest sources of growth, at the expense of larger sized handbags. Combined, unit sales of small and mini handbags increased 2 percent in the 12 months ending October 2016, compared to the prior year, and dollar sales increased 3 percent. The growing popularity of smaller handbags has created a demand for smaller accessories to carry money and credit cards, while dollar sales of more traditional wallets declined.

“Consumers are realizing that they don’t need to carry everything with them at all times,” said Beth Goldstein, executive director and industry analyst, accessories and footwear, The NPD Group, Inc. “The desire to simplify and streamline is made easier with the prevalence of electronic payment and loyalty membership app options – consumers can consolidate most of those cards that used to fill their wallets onto their mobile phones.

Consumers may be leaning toward smaller sizes, but the amount spent on money accessories has grown, and both of these trends spanned the U.S. in the 12 months ending October 2016. Lower price points (under $75) accounted for the majority of the category’s unit growth, but higher price points were among the fastest growing segments this past year and represented more than half of money accessory dollar gains. In the southern region, which drove the largest dollar increases of all U.S. census regions, the $150 or more and $75-$100 price points were the fastest growing. The South was also the region in the U.S. that drove the most growth of small handbags. Combined, those two price points accounted for 42 percent of dollar growth in the southern region of the U.S.

“Understanding where this developing trend in accessories is resonating most with consumers, and how those consumers are approaching the spend, is critical to year-round retail planning,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “Small personal accessories are a natural fit as gifts, and the new emphasis on smaller sizes with lower price tags will increase the opportunity for self-gifting this holiday season, as well as filling stockings.”  

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service

December 8, 2016

Skip the Stress: Our Short and Sweet Holiday Gift-Giving Guide

Buying gifts for friends and family can be daunting, no matter how well you know them. Luckily, our partner CivicScience is here to give you some data-driven information that might help put you at ease, so you can focus on the important things (food and family, of course). In this short post uncover what your friends and family prefer to give as gifts, what your friends and family prefer to receive as gifts, and which gifts are most often returned or exchanged.

December 8, 2016

Consumers are Paying the Price for Toys this Holiday

I had to do a double-take when I saw the data for U.S. toy sales during Thanksgiving week. While I predicted last month that higher-priced items would be a growth driver for the industry this holiday season, I don’t think any of us expected that 85 percent of the industry’s growth during this week would come from price-points over $20. Digging deeper into this price phenomenon, the story – believe it or not – only gets more interesting.

To put these figures into perspective, comparing Thanksgiving week this year to last, we see the gap that existed in higher price-points is now starting to be filled. The $30-39.99 range was underserved last holiday season, while this year it grew at the highest rate over this important week. The strongest dollar growth came from toys priced over $70.


NPD Group Chart | US Toy Sales


The top two categories driving growth in these higher price-points during Thanksgiving week both fall under the Outdoor & Sports Toys supercategory: Blasters/Foam Shooters & Accessories filled in the hole we saw in the $30-39.99 range last year, and Skates, Skateboards & Scooters drove most of the growth for the over $70 pricing. Looking back to last year, we may recall that the “hoverboard” types of skateboards were very popular until they were banned due to fire issues. With the issue now resolved, we’re seeing explosive growth once again with these items.

What’s driving this trend in higher-priced toys? It begins with the fact that the toy industry experienced growth over the last couple of years. With this growth, I believe both manufacturers and retailers are more open to investing in new ideas and taking risks. Success breeds innovation, which breeds more success and innovation, and the snowball effect continues to roll.

I also believe that retailers this holiday have become more bullish to higher price-points and accept that parents are willing to pay more for the climactic moment on Christmas morning, when their child opens that big gift under the tree.

There’s also a bigger picture trend at play that we’re seeing around the country and across industries. Consumers are building their personal brand on social media, whether through selfies on Instagram, videos on Facebook, and so on. They want to be part of a broader, social community in an individual way. We’re seeing that toys has a role in this development as well; parents and family members seek that big reaction on Christmas morning, to film and photograph and to share on social media for their family and friends to see. They seek that special reaction, and they are willing to pay a high price for it.    

Each week throughout the holiday season, NPD publishes its Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report, sharing weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories including toys, apparel, technology, athletic footwear, and prestige fragrances. Week after week, the story has been positive for the toy industry, and I expect this optimism will continue in the time to come.

December 7, 2016

Thanksgiving Week Sales More Than Doubled the Prior Week’s Sales, But, So Far, Holiday 2016 is Still Falling Short

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

Thanksgiving Week takes its rightful place as the true start of the holiday shopping season. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories, dollar sales in the fourth week of the 2016 holiday shopping season, which included Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, more than doubled that of the prior week. While the peak week closely followed the trend seen in 2015, sales were 1 percent lower than Thanksgiving Week 2015. Cumulatively, dollar sales in the first four weeks of the 2016 holiday shopping season fell 3 percent behind the first four weeks of the 2015 holiday season.

Week Ending November 26, 2016*

Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the fourth week of November 2016 were 1 percent lower than the fourth week of November 2015.
  • Toys and Prestige Fragrances each beat their week 4 2015 dollar sales results by 3 percent – the only industries to outperform last year for the week and cumulatively over the first four weeks of the season.
  • Toys more than doubled their sales from the prior week.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Top Performing Categories

  • PCs (Notebooks)
  • Home Automation
  • Sports Toys
  • Games/Puzzles
  • Streaming Audio Speakers

Note: Instant Print Cameras also had noteworthy growth

“Retailers of all types set out to lure consumers with an increase in promotions, and it worked…for a few categories, but not for everything. Less conventional holiday winners beat out anticipated headliners, like last year’s wearable fitness tracker success story. But, big TVs are also making their mark on the 2016 holiday season, and a handful of other categories are gaining momentum,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “While the pace picked up over Thanksgiving Week, overall the season is still lagging a bit and what follows is the post-Black Friday lull. The challenge facing retailers now is to make the new, more spread-out holiday shopping season work to their advantage, and keep the hottest items in stock as consumers shop with the expectation of continued deals galore.”

Coming Next Week: Holiday Shopping Bag Results for Cyber Monday Week – see if continued promotions tempered the post-Black Friday lull!

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances

Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

December 7, 2016

Shoppers Don’t Like Anything About Holiday Shopping

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” or so the Muzak piped into the mall speaker system declares as holiday shoppers scramble to complete gift lists on time and under budget. The holiday season fills some of us with stress, while others actually enjoy the season. What gets the holiday shopper excited about the gift-buying season, and how can stores improve the experience?

December 6, 2016

Top 6 Home Entertaining Trends of Holiday 2016

An essential part of the holidays is gathering with your people to celebrate family, friends, and the milestones of the calendar year. For many Americans, this means decking the halls fantastic, making a mountain of food, and buying anything and everything to make the entertaining process easier—and more fun. We combed our POS and consumer databases to discover what people buy to entertain throughout the holiday season. Find out what’s hot during Holiday 2016 across the home and food sectors.

1. People Are Eating at Other People’s Homes More

In general, and specifically with the Millennial cohort, meals eaten outside the home have been on the decline over the past few years in the U.S. Americans are dining out less and eating at home more, with 82 percent of all meals consumed sourced from home. Chalk it up to consumers tightening their wallets post-recession and slow and narrow economic improvements that aren’t significant enough to shake Americans’ conditioned cost-savings behavior.

Meals eaten at other people’s homes have increased, too. Between 2013 and 2015, the number of meals eaten at another person’s home wavered between 32 and 33 meals per person each year, on average. In 2016, this figure jumped by 19 percent to an average of 38 meals eaten at another person’s home over the course of the year, shown by our National Eating Trends® survey and custom research.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Source: The NPD Group/National Eating Trends® and custom research

Our Vice President and Food Industry Analyst David Portalatin attributes this jump primarily to the dinner meal occasion—which increased from 9 to 11 meals eaten at another person’s home from 2015 to 2016. “In-home or away from home, dinner is the most social meal occasion by far, during which Americans are least likely to eat alone. Only 33 percent of dinner meal occasions were eaten alone this year, compared to 48 percent of total meal occasions,” David explains. And at home, Americans eat dinner with guests during 9 percent of all dinner occasions—the highest for any meal occasion.

2. Millennials Stay Home on New Year’s Eve

The tendency for consumers to dine at their own home or the homes of other is perhaps best illustrated on New Year’s Eve—and it’s strongest among Millennials. In the week leading up to the turn of 2016, we asked U.S. adults how they planned to spend New Year’s Eve. Among those who went to a bar, club, or restaurant, the generational breakdown was pretty even: 39 percent of New Year’s Eve restaurant goers were under 35, 30 percent were aged 35-54, and 30 percent over 55 years of age. But looking at survey respondents who planned to host or attend a house party on New Year’s, 60 percent were under 35 years of age—demonstrating that Gen Y and Z are opting to skip overpriced cover charges and the fight for the bartender’s attention in favor of cozier evenings in someone’s home.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights

Source: The NPD Group/National Eating Trends® and custom research, December 20-30, 2015

3. People Eat at Home on Christmas and Thanksgiving—But Still Buy from Foodservice

Entertaining around the holidays is foremost about the people. Aside from the company with whom we surround ourselves, it’s all about the food. So what, and where, are people eating for the biggest meal occasions of the holiday season—Thanksgiving and Christmas?

David Portalatin describes Thanksgiving and Christmas as overwhelmingly celebrated at home. On Thanksgiving specifically, home is where the stomach is. Our National Eating Trends survey found 48 percent of Americans eat at home on Thanksgiving Day, while 44 percent are invited over to someone else’s home. This leaves only 3 percent of Americans who go out to eat at a full-service restaurant.

Restaurants shouldn’t shutter their doors completely on Thanksgiving, though. To start, more than 19 percent of consumers eat Thanksgiving Day breakfast at a restaurant (the main feast isn’t the only meal of that day). And even when people entertain at home, they still look to restaurants to provide appetizers or entrées for their affairs. We found 29 percent of Thanksgiving Day meal occasions included one item sourced ready-to-eat at foodservice, while only 57 percent of these meals are completely homemade.

For Christmas Eve meals, consumers are twice as likely as Thanksgiving to go to a full-service restaurant (6 percent vs. 3 percent). Since the Christmas holiday entails meals on both the eve and day of, it affords those celebrating the opportunity to enjoy both the comforts of home cooking and the luxury of a prepared meal.

4. The Turkey’s Getting a Spicy Makeover

It’s less expensive to cook a turkey dinner this year, thanks to decreased food commodity prices across the board. So what fare are people serving when company’s over? The simple days of pot roasts and potatoes are now over. While the holidays are typically considered a time for indulgence, our consumer insights partner, CultureWaves, found that a healthier approach to cooking has influenced holiday menus across America. While the turkey may always remain the pièce de résistance on Thanksgiving, it’s gotten a makeover with ethnic spices and unique cooking formats. Whether it’s Cajun-brined, deep-fried, Tuscan-rolled, pomegranate-molassesglazed, or Carolina-barbequed, Americans have their turkey their way.

The turkey’s entourage is changing, too. CultureWaves says traditional side dishes like green bean casserole are being swapped out for healthier alternatives like a cranberry, shallots and quinoa salad, and in many homes, white potatoes and rolls are removed from the table completely. Since our nation as a whole is more health-conscious and accepting of people’s diet choices, the side dish portion sizes are getting smaller on many American tables, and holiday diners are more likely to attempt to stick to their health plan during the holidays.

David Portalatin echoes this sentiment, explaining that Gen Y and Z in particular have grown up with more diversity, access to information, and exposure to new and different things. These experiences have worked their way into their palates, giving younger generations tastes for ethnic cuisines with bold flavors. And for these cohorts especially, meals are more than just sustenance; they’re experiences.

5. Alcohol Gadgets Are Key When Americans Host

Though more at-home eating translates to less promising news for restaurants, the home industry has benefitted handsomely as more people opt to eat at home and spend money on the tools required to create a festive experience for their guests, explains our Executive Director and Home Industry Analyst, Joe Derochowski. Sales of entertaining gadgets grew 11 percent in the 12 months ending in August 2016. Almost all of the top entertaining tools are for alcohol consumption, with cork screws selling best, followed by ice cube trays, coasters, toothpicks, and flasks. The gadgets with the greatest year-over-year growth were ice buckets, wine tool sets, and coasters.

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights
                                                 Source: The NPD Group / Retail Tracking Service, 12 Months Ending August 2016

Total beverageware spend was up 7 percent. Barware and entertaining related items drove that growth, including serveware, cups/mugs, ‘Old Fashioned’ glasses, and pilsner/pub glasses. Joe Derochowski says, “similar to New Year’s, when Millennials would rather host their friends than go out to a bar, they also prefer to entertain, be social, and stay connected with their friends at home throughout the year. This helps fuel the growth in entertaining gadgets and beverageware”.

6. Americans Buy Home Scents to Set the Mood

In addition to food, friends, and family, another essential element of a successful home gathering is ambience. A warm and inviting atmosphere can be achieved with physical décor to see and touch. It can also be communicated through smell, be it the warm scent of a burning fireplace, aromas of vegetables roasting in the oven, or the smell of fresh pine. Home fragrance products like candles, diffusers, and room sprays also add to the holiday atmosphere. These olfactory sensations are an essential part of home holiday gatherings. Our retail tracking data shows sales of prestige home fragrances peak around the holiday season (from October to December). Scentiments, our new suite of consumer insights and tools for the U.S. fragrance industry, allows us to take a deep dive on home scents as they relate to entertaining.

Our beauty director and industry analyst, Kissura Craft, describes home scents as the fastest-growing segment in fragrances, outpacing the other segments anywhere from 19 to 27 points. What proportion of Americans use home scents, and which products do they buy? The Scentiments online survey (fielded July through August 2016 to more than 8,000 U.S. adults) found scented candles are the most popular product, purchased by 43 percent of survey respondents. Next in popularity are scented room-spray fresheners (used by 41 percent of respondents), plug-in air fresheners (30 percent), and clip-on air fresheners (21 percent). Most often, consumers use these products in their living or family room (69 percent of respondents) followed by the bathroom (66 percent of respondents).

Many consumers use scented home products to create a welcoming environment for guests, closely linked to home entertaining: 10 percent of buyers use home scents when guests are over. And this number is higher (13 percent) for younger Millennials (aged 18-24). In our Scentiments survey, 49 percent of respondents claimed to make these purchases to create an inviting and comfortable atmosphere. In addition, 35 percent bought home scents specifically to make a good impression when guests are over. This figure skews higher for Millennials (44 percent for younger Millennials and 47 percent for older Millennials, aged 24-34). While we all love the smell of a roasting turkey and fixings, let’s face it—sometimes your guests don’t want to smell (or smell like) onions all evening. That’s why 46 percent of respondents said they buy home scent products to cover or mask odors—of cooking or pets, for example.

Preferences for home scents vary by season, though most consumers tend to stick to their preferred scent families overall. These include sweet/fruity, tropical, food/baking, warm/woodsy, and clean/light. Our survey reported 31 percent of home scent users adjust their scents with the changing seasons. Older Millennials and Gen X are the mostly likely of all age groups to change scents with the seasons (35 percent). People associate autumn with aromas of leaves, pumpkin, cool air, cinnamon, apples, and cider. When it comes to Christmas, they think of scents like baking cookies, gingerbread, pine, peppermint, cinnamon, and crisp air.

“It’s no surprise that scents associated with the holidays rose to the top two spots in November (for example, Nest Holiday and Nest Birchwood Pine candles), replacing the top-selling pear, freesia, and eucalyptus mint scents of September and October. These winter scents help consumers get into and set the mood as the holiday season begins. And the holiday-scented candle from Nest continues to be the best-seller into December,” Kissura explains.

So if you’re entertaining or attending someone’s else gathering this holiday, may it be in the warmth of someone’s home, filled with uniquely flavored, great food (homemade, or ordered in), stocked with the required tools to enjoy your drink, and smelling nice.

November 30, 2016

Finally, It's Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas – Holiday Spending Kicked Into Gear the Week Before Thanksgiving

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

The week before Thanksgiving proved to be an important one for retail this holiday season. According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories, following a lackluster couple of weeks, sales in the third week of the holiday season lined up with dollar sales during same week in 2015.

Week Ending November 19, 2016*

  • Dollar sales in the third week of November 2016 were in line with the third week of November 2015.
  • The week’s boost was driven by an 8 percent increase in sales of Toys, compared to the same week last year.
  • Prestige Fragrance also saw a nice uptick during the third week of the holiday season, up 12 percent compared to last year.
  • Apparel sales followed the overall trend, matching week 3 2015 dollar sales.
  • Technology dollar declines seen in previous weeks softened significantly.

Top Performing Categories

  • PCs
  • Women’s Apparel
  • Sport Leisure Shoes (Classics)
  • Kids Outdoor & Sports Toys
  • Games/Puzzles

“Finally, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Some key categories kicked into gear with promotions that drove a lot of sales, and the traditional Christmas categories started to make their move in the third week of November,” said NPD’s Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen. “Newer categories of importance to the holiday season, like TVs (big ones), casual athletic shoes, outdoor toys, and games, combined with the predominance of online deals, will prove to be catalysts behind the momentum that energizes Thanksgiving week, as well as the lull that follows Black Friday weekend.”

Coming Next Week: Holiday Shopping Bag Results for Thanksgiving/Black Friday Week – see how this important week shaped up!

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances.

Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

For more information, or to speak with Marshal Cohen, please contact Janine Marshall, 516-625-2356 or janine.marshall@npd.com, and visit NPD’s Holiday Insights page.

November 29, 2016

Sneakernomics: Holiday Predictions for the Sports Industry 2016

Last holiday season was a particularly strong one for many major aspects of the sports business. There are several factors making this year’s challenging for the industry, but while this year won’t top last, I still expect a fair holiday performance for the world of sports retail.

Sports Authority’s fate puts pressure on the industry: The biggest factor for this year’s holiday selling season in sports is the loss of The Sports Authority. Where there were adjacent big box competitors to TSA we have seen transference, and surely some of the TSA business has gone to the internet; however, much of the TSA business has simply evaporated. This has had a deep impact on the sports industry as a whole. The vacuum created by the TSA closing has had a profound impact on Nike, Under Armour, and Champion, but virtually every brand that did business with TSA is affected.

Chilly sales for cold weather categories: Another variable that’s proving to be unfavorable to the industry thus far is the weather. While it has turned somewhat colder in many parts of the country, we have not seen true winter weather seize the attention of the nation. This will throw shade across the entire industry.

The cold weather categories have been hurt the most. Data from NPD’s Retail Tracking Service show considerable weakness in weather-related categories for October. Outerwear sales declined in the low teens, cold weather undergarments were down double-digits, and the cold weather boot business declined over 20 percent. Retailers have already been much more promotional around the boot categories.

Early sales for the snow sports category have started off much softer than in seasons past. This, along with a delayed winter, poses a challenge. While some of these sales could be made up late, the sales will likely come at the expense of profit.

Ups and downs in the outdoors: The outdoor industry has seen a slow-down this year as well. After very nice growth, outdoor sports categories combined are just flat for 2016. Even the hot premium cooler business has started to plateau. While Millennials drove this trend for the last few years, the “herd, binge, abandon” phenomenon appears to be in effect. Right now, the climbing business is a bright spot for the industry, but overall I expect a mediocre season for the overall outdoor industry.

A slowdown for cycling: The cycling business has continued to be soft for some time and this holiday season is no exception. Sales have been boosted somewhat by a promotional environment as retailers try to clear old stock, but overall I don’t expect it will be as great of a year as last for the cycling categories.

Rise in retro and casual running styles: The run specialty categories have struggled for some time and I expect this to continue through the holidays, as retro and casual running reigns supreme. Recently, sales have improved slightly as the shops have added accessory categories and worked hard on the add-on sales. However, the core shoe business remains in decline as the rise of casual running continues to hurt the technical business.  

A mixed bag for athletic apparel and footwear: The activewear category was having a decent year until we came against the TSA closings. Since then, sales have been soft. Layer on the lack of cold weather and prospects are not bright for a great holiday season. Also, as I identified in early fall, another interesting and important story in activewear is the number of new brands and retailers who are trying to crash the party. More brands and retailers are competing for a place in what has become an oversaturated space, and this influx has created a lot of noise and confusion. I predict that it will be a messy holiday for the activewear business. Beyond activewear, an emerging athletic apparel trend to watch is sports licensed apparel as street wear. There is something bubbling under the surface here, and it’s quite possible that it will arise as the next big fashion trend.

The athletic footwear business was decent up until the TSA closure, which caused sales to soften dramatically. One positive is that the Black Friday Jordan release is far better than last year’s, which should generate store traffic and boost sales. Another positive is that inventories are very clean at retail, which means the danger to margins should be mitigated. Adidas and Puma will remain the hot brands as Under Armour slows up and Nike stays soft. With that said, I foresee a decent holiday for athletic footwear.

It’s all about the click: Looking at shopping outlets, e-commerce and mobile will be big drivers for whatever gains we get in the sports world this holiday. Retailers both large and small that do not have an e-commerce platform will woefully under perform. Those with a great mobile interface will outperform those that do not.

Black Friday’s not a deal-breaker: In many instances, Black Friday started on Tuesday. The day itself has never been that meaningful for sports and this year it will be less so. The same goes for Cyber Monday. These artificial holiday constructs are largely based on price – a tactic that the sports industry has for the most part been able to avoid. What promotions we have seen have been broader in scope, not in depth of discount.

While the sports business is not off to as great of a start this holiday season as others, it doesn’t mean there’s no chance for it to catch up. Various circumstances are leading it to be a challenging holiday for the industry, but overall I still expect the industry to pull through and see some decent gains to close out 2016.

November 28, 2016

Stores Saved Black Friday Weekend

That's right. Despite the surge of online and Thanksgiving Day  in-store sales, combined with the less-than-stellar Friday  in-store sales, retailers got the boost they needed from Saturday and even Sunday in-store business.  Saturday and Sunday, which was almost non-existent last year, showed up to save the overall weekend business this year. 

But, the feel of the weekend was different.  It was filled with shoppers looking for ideas.  It was filled with shoppers socializing and familiarizing themselves with the merchandise. Frankly, many were researching what to get next, after scoring online and in-store Black-Thursday deals.  In the past consumers did their research online and then purchased in-store, but brick and mortar stores are now critical to consumers’ research needs. This translates to exactly what brick retailers needed to round out this Thanksgiving weekend – on Saturday and Sunday consumers came and bought, impulsively and socially.

Welcome to the new dynamic of the peak holiday shopping period that used to center around Black Friday and door busters.  Now, redefined, pre-Thanksgiving online deals and Thanksgiving Day shopping take center stage. Stores play more of a supporting role, but they are still important to the holiday retail story, and they still score big.  

November 25, 2016

Black Thursday Turns Black Friday Grey

Pre-Black Friday online sales starting earlier than in past years, opening on Thanksgiving night; and ongoing doorbuster deals all proved to work well, but perhaps too well.  As Thanksgiving Day sales start to steal the business directly from Black Friday, it appears that Thanksgiving Day has become the new Black Friday, and retailers have no one to blame but themselves. 

Thursday night’s lines were long, and the bags and carts were full, but by midnight that flurry turned to calm. The stores that opened on Thursday were not very busy on Black Friday, and the stores that opted not to open on Thursday may regret it. While the Thanksgiving Day opt-outs were busier on Black Friday, they didn’t see the crowds they saw in previous years. The fact is there are more options for holiday shoppers today than in the past. The holiday shopping season and deals begin well-before Thanksgiving, stores offer longer hours, and the perpetual ecommerce options are spreading out the holiday shopping and spending opportunities for consumers – putting a spin on the idea of spreading holiday cheer.

The retailers that were busiest on Black Friday include electronic stores, mass merchants, beauty stores, and, as always, toy stores. Toy deals and having plenty of the “hot” toys in stock were the keys to success for those retailers. The surprises were the activity at athletic footwear stores and the interest in, yet again, big screen TVs. The too-big-to-pass-up TV deals drove huge interest.

In the 40 years I’ve studied Black Friday, I’ve never seen the crowds this soft on Friday morning; parking wasn't an issue, and lines were shorter than any weekend in October.  I’ve visited the same register at the same store at 7:00 a.m. for the past 15 years.  Last year, I found 70 people waiting to check out at that register. This year, there were only seven people in that line. That says it all. 

Overall, Thanksgiving week will likely chalk up a good start to the 2016 holiday shopping season, but this year it also marked a change to the cadence of holiday, with the shopping activity taking on a new, more spread-out rhythm. 

Welcome to the new Black Friday, or should I say, Black Thursday.  

Follow me on Twitter @marshalcohen to see what I’m seeing this holiday shopping weekend.

November 25, 2016

It’s Time to Change Again

Last year in our Black Friday blog we noted that it appeared most retailers had the holiday figured out. When to open on Thanksgiving, how focused to be on online shopping vs in-store, when to promote and how to do it. Sadly, I think we were a bit premature in declaring a victory (or least an armistice) in the holiday shopping wars. This year many electronics brick-and-mortar retailers succumbed to the reality that opening on Thanksgiving was only for the biggest traffic aggregators, like the malls, and pushed their promotions to Friday morning. Unfortunately, what they missed is that Black Friday, as an event and a shopping experience, has ceased to exist. There were few if any lines at 6:00 a.m. on Black Friday, as that traffic long ago migrated to Thanksgiving Eve or online, yet many retailers continue to chase it.

While I am sure that there will be plenty of volume on Friday afternoon and over the weekend, the need to open early and promotionally on Friday morning seems to have passed. It’s now truly the  Thanksgiving weekend that kicks off the holiday season. And the imperative is now to be truly successful over both Thanksgiving week and Cyber Week. That will be what makes, or breaks, the season for retail. We have seen Thanksgiving week share of holiday sales increase by about 2.5 points over the past 10 years. When combined with Cyber Week, those two weeks are approximately one-third of the nine week holiday season results, up about 5 points overall from results posted in the last 2000’s.

We noted on Twitter the strong lines on Thanksgiving evening, but most of those were at the largest retailers. Best Buy’s success on Thanksgiving, as a more specialty retailer, seems more and more like an aberration, a function of the strength of electronics as a draw for promotionally focused early holiday shoppers (as we would once again note that many of Thanksgiving night’s retailers, even those with only a tangential relationship to CE, such as Kohl’s and Dick’s, led with or focused on CE products as traffic drivers and interest builders).

On the product side, my colleague Ben Arnold has done an admirable job of calling out the new  sales opportunities for consumer electronics in 2016, including Smart Home, VR, Drones and Smart Hubs. However, the real focus of holiday 2016 has been big screen and 4K/UHD TV with record low pricing and seemingly endless demand over the last two days (check out my Twitter timeline for some comments on that) propelling what promises to be a record end, to a record year in TV sales.  Among the other traditional categories, PCs, tablets and mobile phones remain heavily promoted, but the broad appeal of TV, especially the newer technology and bigger screens, has been the prime catalyst for retail interest. Alongside TVs, an increased emphasis on mounts, cables and soundbars, all of which are exceptionally well positioned add-ons to big screen TVs, and benefit from the cleaner sales floor environment (less pile-it-high, pallet stack outs for 60 inch TVs than 32 inch TVs in the past) allowing retailers to fulfill demand for accessories that can add revenue and profit to the challenging Thanksgiving week TV pricing environment.

Despite the positive sprouts we have seen during Thanksgiving week, we would be remiss if we did not note the lackluster results for the first two weeks of November for CE  and the weaker start to Q4 for CE. While these results can be explained by looking at the difficult comparisons to strong launch events in 2015 (iPad Pro and SP4/Surface Book), they do not account for the entire story. Sales in 2015 never capitalized on that strong beginning and left CE with poor results. Those weak comparisons give us reason for hope for this year’s performance. While the final judgment of the holiday, as always, awaits a complete accounting of sales for the entire nine week holiday season (which we will provide in our CES Research Summit wrap up) the CE business has faced challenges around pricing and demand throughout 2016 and despite the easy comparisons, success is not guaranteed.

November 25, 2016

New Consumer Electronics Products Help Bring Out the Black Friday Crowds

This year my family spent Thanksgiving in Manhattan, making for a memorable post-dinner technology shopping tour in the city. Among the handful of stores I visited Thursday night, a trip to Best Buy on the Upper East Side really stood out. This wasn’t the big store I’m used to in Virginia; this smaller, city-sized Best Buy boasted a club-like atmosphere. It was packed at 10:00 p.m., long after the opening rush at 5:00 p.m., and an in-store Sonos system played Rihanna and Future throughout the building.  A Beats mini-store on the lower level featured several headphones to demo. It felt more like a technology shopping party than a post-Thanksgiving bargain hunt.

The vibe in this Best Buy was well timed. According to NPD’s 2016 Holiday Purchase Intentions Study, more than a third (36 percent) of shoppers expect to buy technology products this holiday and shoppers even expect their spending on technology to increase (+5 percent this season).  The growth in premium feature segments like television, imaging and tablets are certainly contributing to this, but the growing selection of products in emerging categories are also driving interest in CE around the holiday. In fact, this Black Friday, ample promotions around products like drones, voice-enabled speakers, and virtual reality headsets are helping drive shoppers to the stores. 

Most of these new product categories offer a diverse range of price points. For those looking to try VR, products like the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR are available, as well as Google’s Daydream ($79) and Zeiss VR One ($99). The idea of a voice-controlled speaker was nearly unimaginable for most consumers just two years ago, but Google Home is on sale this weekend for just $99, and Amazon’s Echo Dot can be bought for as little as $39. So far, drone promotions have ranged from $59 to $999. In somewhat of an unusual occurrence, this wide array of pricing has made these new technology products more accessible to shoppers this holiday.

This bodes well for the shopping season. In addition to the attractive promotions on 4K TVs, PCs and cameras that we have become accustomed to, shoppers are flocking to stores to buy these new technology categories – not just try them. To me, that will be the real story of Black Friday – the ability of new, interesting products to get tech shoppers to come out to the stores.    

November 23, 2016

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

Consumers may still be suffering from post-election distraction, and even the flurry of early retailer promotions hasn’t caught their attention.  According to The NPD Group’s weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories, second week holiday sales were down 8 percent compared to same week results in 2015. 

Week Ending November 12, 2016*

Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the second week of November 2016 were 8 percent lower than they were in the second week of November 2015.
  • Each of the five industries being tracked — Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances — saw dollar sales declines.
  • Technology and apparel continue to account for the most sales, but displayed the largest declines compared to last year.
  • Declines in dollar sales of athletic footwear and fragrances were minimized by increases in the average amount spent per item.

“Classic holiday winners, like apparel and tech, are lagging a bit early on, but it’s just not their time yet. New, more innovative products that tend to be gobbled up before Thanksgiving – often self-gifted – will do well early on,” said Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen.

Top Performing Categories

  • Sport Leisure Shoes (Classics)
  • Home Automation (Security & Monitoring)
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Kids Outdoor & Sports Toys
  • Children/Infant Apparel Sets

“The increased competition from both brick and click coming earlier in the holiday season has retailers jockeying for position in the consumer’s spending plan, and we can see how those efforts are playing out,” said Cohen. “Retailers are front-loading the season with promotions, creating a shift in spending cadence and making year-over-year growth more challenging. While some consumers take advantage of these early deals, there is still an important second wave that happens closer to the holiday – consumers know the deals will keep coming.”

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales of Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances. 
Note: Shifts may occur from week to week in reporting results, due to retailer reporting updates.

For more information, or to speak with Marshal Cohen, please contact Janine Marshall, 516-625-2356 or janine.marshall@npd.com, and visit NPD’s Holiday Insights page.

November 22, 2016

Hello, Fun Socks Season

As I notice the beautiful fall foliage outside my window I’m quickly reminded that boot season is upon us – that means it is time to break out my fun socks. Besides providing me with warmth, socks are a fun accessory to complete my outfit. From no show liners to over-the-knee boot socks, from neon colors to wacky prints, from traditional to stripes…there are an infinite number of options.

Having options is essential as most adults (male and female) say they wear socks. The degree to which they wear socks differs, especially by gender. Seventy-three percent of men say they wear socks for all or most non-athletic activities compared to only 39 percent of women*. But when she is wearing socks, over 40 percent indicated they will coordinate their socks with their outfits all or most of the time**. And the weather plays a huge factor when it comes to women opening their sock draws, with 74 percent saying they wear socks when the weather turns colder*, present company included.

Close to 60 percent of total socks sales stem from the colder months of October through March, with nearly 20 percent solely in the month of December***. And stocking up on your favorite pair is considered the norm, as two-thirds of consumers say they buy multiple pairs of the same socks at one time*. I myself tend to go on sock buying binges once I realize last year’s pairs need replacing.

Not only am I buying socks for myself this time of year, I also find myself picking up a few pairs as holiday stocking stuffers. Moreover, socks are the number one gifted apparel item during the holiday season when looking at units****. But holiday sock gifting for me is more about playing up the novelty than the necessity…after all, print and patterned socks are growing in sales while solid colors are on the decline****. 

So, bye-bye bare feet (for now), and hello to a fun sock season ahead…or at least until the groundhog tells me otherwise.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus Aug 2016
**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Omnibus May 2016
***Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service TMM- 12ME Sep 2016
****Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service- 2ME Dec 2015 & 12ME Sep 2016

November 17, 2016

Stores Closing on Thanksgiving? They May Want to Think Twice, Reports NPD

The average shopper spend on Thanksgiving Day 2015 was the 2nd highest of the whole year

Port Washington, NY, November 17, 2016 — The average amount spent by shoppers on Thanksgiving Day 2015 relative to other key shopping days may give pause to retailers, according to new The NPD Group, a leading global information company. A fifth of shoppers plan to do more of their holiday gift shopping online this year than they did last year*, but based on analysis from NPD’s receipt mining service, Checkout Tracking, there is also strong historical data indicating that there is value in stores keeping their doors open on Thanksgiving Day.

The eye-opening reality about the 2015 holiday shopping season is that, despite predictions of diluted and weak sales, Thanksgiving Day was the #2 ranked in-store shopping day of the year, based on the average amount spent per shopper on that day. Black Friday 2015 was ranked first. While the number of buyers in stores was less on both Black Friday (44 percent share of all 2015 buyers) and Thanksgiving (26 percent) than on the Saturday before Christmas (46 percent), the two November dates topped the charts in terms of shopping dollars spent.

“Though there are several retailers making the decision to close on Thanksgiving Day, enough consumers have demonstrated that they will shop on the holiday to make it worthwhile for most major retailers to open and capture those sales,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “The value of getting a deal will always be a draw for a large segment of consumers. Now, retailers need to figure out how to get the attention of those shoppers, whether it is through timing of promotion, expanded store hours, or online flexibility and convenience.”

More than one in six holiday shoppers plan to wait until Black Friday sales to begin to their holiday gift shopping*. Indeed, looking at factors driving where consumers plan to shop this holiday season**, special sale price (62 percent) and overall value for the price (58 percent) lead the pack, but the strongest upward trajectory goes to free shipping offers—52 percent say such offers influence where they shop for holiday gifts, up from 44 percent in 2014. Additionally, three in ten holiday shoppers in America say they plan to buy all of their holiday gifts on sale this year.

“The data shows that holiday shoppers will go to one or two, maximum three stores on these big promotional shopping days. Retailers who want to connect with their customers and capture those sales will want to open on Thanksgiving, even for limited hours,” added Andy Mantis, executive vice president of Checkout Tracking at NPD Group. “This dilemma over whether or not to be open on Thanksgiving Thursday didn’t exist until recently. But now that it’s here, retailers have no choice but to figure out how to play in this space. With more than 25 percent of Black Friday two-day spend going into Thanksgiving, if you’re not in it, you risk losing customers and traffic.”  

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / October 2016 Omnibus

**Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Annual Holiday Purchase Intentions Study

November 16, 2016

NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report

NPD Will Report Weekly Point-of-sale Data for General Merchandise

Leading global information provider The NPD Group will be reporting weekly point-of-sale results for key general merchandise categories tracked by the company throughout the holiday season.  Categories included in the NPD “Holiday Shopping Bag” include Apparel, Toys, Technology, Athletic Footwear, and Prestige Fragrances.*

“The Census Bureau has reported improved retail sales with revisions to August and September, and October exceeded expectations with 0.8 percent growth.  NPD sees some categories showing signs of getting an early start for the holiday,” said Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen.

Using real POS information, NPD is able to look at critical sales trends in order to report what consumers are actually purchasing during the holiday period and when they are purchasing enabling manufacturers and retailers to see what’s hot and what’s not as well as to understand the new cadence of holiday.

Week Ending November 5, 2016

Overall Performance

  • Dollar sales in the first week of November 2016 were 7 percent lower than they were in the first week of November 2015, driven by declines in both unit sales and the average price paid.
  • Technology is the largest segment but also has the largest declines from last year.
  • Prestige Fragrances are up slightly.
  • While dollar sales of toys were down slightly compared to last year, more items were purchased.


Top Performing Categories

  • Sport Leisure Shoes (Classics)
  • Games & Puzzles
  • Home Automation
  • Stereo Headphones
  • Outdoor & Sports Toys

“The season appears to be off to a sluggish start, in general, with technology and apparel at the top of the watch list, but the recent economic strength points to more positive results on the way,” said Cohen. “Promotions are kicking in earlier this year so sales may turn around quickly, especially for these top holiday segments.”

* Information is collected from a panel of leading retailers that provide weekly point-of-sale data covering in-store and online sales.

November 14, 2016

How Early is too Early for Christmas in Retail?

Is it some circadian rhythm, or do Christmas lovers set their clocks to November 1 at Midnight to start playing “All I Want for Christmas is You” and installing twinkle lights? Holiday fans and retailers alike have begun putting up Christmas displays right after Halloween.

November 14, 2016

It’s Beginning to Smell a lot like Christmas: Home Fragrance Most Important When Company is Expected, NPD Finds

Port Washington, NY, November 14, 2016 – In preparing their homes and minds for the holidays, and the festive family gatherings they bring, consumers turn to scent and décor to get into the holiday spirit. Home fragrance is most important to consumers when company is expected, as scents are a way of honoring their guests and ensuring they have a pleasant visit, according to Scentiments, a new suite of consumer insights and tools on the fragrance industry from global information company The NPD Group.

Nearly 50 percent of all home scent users use home scent “to create an inviting/comfortable atmosphere,” according to data from Scentiments. Women, with 84 percent of them using scented home products, are more likely to increase home scents when guests are expected, and men do this as well, though to a lesser degree. 

“As the upsurge in prestige sales and consumer statements attest, the home scents market is growing rapidly. This is a reflection of the consumer movement towards a different type of gift to self: more holistic sensory experiences,” said Karen Grant, global beauty industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Consumers tend to use candles, diffusers, and other scented home products not out of necessity, but out of a desire for a warm and intimate space that brings both the consumer and—especially during the holidays—their guests, comfort, joy, and positivity.”

In scenting the home, consumers tend to stick within their favorite scent families: sweet/fruity, tropical, food/baking, warm/woodsy, and clean/light. However, many will switch from one scent family to another on a seasonal basis. Nearly one-third of all home scent users say they change their home scent “when the seasons change.” This number skews even higher among older millennials, or 25-34 year olds, who are most likely to change scents seasonally. In addition, three-fourths of women in particular may use different scents in different rooms, illustrating not only the prevalence of scent in the home, but the importance of finding harmony and balance in scent combinations.

According to NPD’s retail tracking data, sales of prestige home scents spike in the fourth quarter of the year (October-December), coinciding with the holiday season. During November and December 2015, the top-selling home scent items based on units sold were: NEST Holiday Candle, Jo Malone’s Lime Basil & Mandarin Scent Surround Diffuser, and NEST Birchwood Pine Candle.  

Prestige Home Fragrance Unit Sales by Quarter 2015


November 3, 2016

NPDs Annual Home Holiday Gift Predictions 2016

NPD Highlights: Home for the Holidays

“The 2016 Holiday shopping season will be a happy one for the home-products industry,” said Joe Derochowski, executive director and home industry analyst, The NPD, Group, Inc. “Large, growing  portions of the population are hitting key life stages, so  marketing to these moments will be critical during the holiday season and beyond. Manufacturers and retailers who are able to address these key moments, especially with innovative products and thinking, will create excitement among holiday shoppers.”

Health continues to be a hot-button driven by Millennials and their parents – both groups are interested in health but for different reasons.  This opens up unique opportunities, including BOGO offers, for categories like…

  • Electric Kettles
  • Citrus Juicers
  • Blenders & Food Processing Systems
  • Portable Beverageware
  • Oral Care
  • Massaging Appliances


Creating an experience is critical for the growing number of pre- and post-kid households. As Millennials start their own homes and Boomers become empty-nesters, their new-found independence will have them entertaining more, and looking for more flexibility to customize to their own preferences, increasing the market demand for…

  • Barware Gadgets
  • Single-Serve Brewing Systems, Multi-Functional Coffeemakers, and Craft Coffee Brewers


Busy consumers are looking for convenience, and the aging population appreciates it too. Products that simplify everyday chores will see growth, so some of this year’s top gifts will be…

  • Robotic Vacuums
  • Stick Vacuums
  • Slow Cookers


Casualization isn’t just about fashion. Men that are expressing their style with a beard will be looking in their stockings for…

  • Men’s Facial Trimmers



For more information, or to speak with Joe Derochowski, please contact Janine Marshall, 516-625-2356 or janine.marshall@npd.com, and visit NPD’s Holiday Insights page.

November 2, 2016

Glad Tidings for Retailers This Holiday Season (Infographic)

“All signs point to a holiday retail season that will outperform last year’s,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group. Here’s a look at what U.S. consumers are telling us about their holiday shopping plans.
November 1, 2016

Toys Tied to Experiences, Family Time, and Healthy Living Propel Industry Growth through the Holiday Season

NPD forecasts growth of approximately 6.5 percent for U.S. toy industry in 2016

Port Washington, NY, November 1, 2016 – U.S. toy sales grew by 6 percent from January through September 2016, according to retail sales data from global information company The NPD Group. NPD expects several trends to drive the toy industry to continued growth through the remainder of 2016, including consumer movement towards experiential purchasing, the popularity of collectibles, the drive toward healthier living, and higher price-points during this holiday season. For the year, NPD estimates toy sales to be up approximately 6.5 percent.

Games and Puzzles the fastest-growing supercategory thus far in 2016

Seven of 11 toy supercategories have posted year-over-year growth through September. Of the seven, the fastest growing is Games and Puzzles, up 16 percent, followed by Dolls and Action Figures & Accessories, both up 12 percent. Within Games and Puzzles, every type of game is fueling growth, from family strategy and board games, to brainteasers and adult games, as well as preschool games. With the Pie Face Game and UNO Card Game both among this year’s top 10 selling items year-to-date, it is highly likely that toys tied to family fun experiences will be on many people’s wish list this holiday season.

“The trend in games is definitely one to watch, and it will continue to flourish as families look for more together time,” said Juli Lennett, senior vice president, U.S. toys industry analyst, The NPD Group.

U.S. Toys Supercategory Performance
Dollar Change, January-September 2016

U.S. Toys Supercategory Performance

Collectibles likely to be big this Christmas

The collectibles craze has built significant momentum heading into the fourth quarter. Sales of collectibles, which fall under playset dolls and action figures, were up 64 percent, or over $220 million, through September. Approximately one-quarter of the $220 million is tied to blind bags, which are estimated to have grown about 80 percent so far this year.

“Within collectibles, there are a lot of new choices, and blind bags especially will make great stocking stuffers this Christmas. Looking at all the new collectibles and blind bags launched this fall, I expect continued strong growth of this segment,” said Lennett.

Healthy living is hot, even in the cooler months

The healthy living trend is a likely growth driver in many non-toy categories NPD tracks, from athletic footwear and activewear, to digital fitness and fresh food consumption. It is also tied to 9 percent year-to-date growth in Outdoor & Sports toys, the largest toy supercategory with dollar sales representing about a quarter of all toy industry sales. On a dollar-basis only, Outdoor & Sports is the industry’s strongest growing thus far in 2016.

“I believe some of this explosion in Outdoor & Sports is a result of millennials seeking a healthier, outdoor lifestyle for their kids,” said Lennett. “I expect that the healthy living trend will continue, and it will be important for toy companies to engage with this trend, and look for ways to do so even in the fall and winter months.”

Higher-priced items will brighten growth this holiday season

While collectibles such as blind bags may be popular stocking stuffers, higher-priced toys are likely to be the presents wrapped under the tree this holiday season. Items including the Star Wars Sphero App Controlled BB-8 and Star Wars Millennium Falcon are among the top 10 toys year-to-date, while the newly-released Hatchimals, an interactive toy that hatches from an egg, which released on October 7, was already among the top five best-selling toys for the week ending October 8, 2016.

“The categories that I expect will provide the most growth in November and December will be connected toys, including drones, cars, and robotics; and wheels, such as battery operated ride-ons, scooters, and hoverboards,” said Lennett. “In prior years, there were one or two hot toys for holiday, but today there is not any one item. While this may create competition for manufacturers, it also presents many opportunities to grow the toy industry in the fourth quarter.”

In terms of how holiday shopping will play out this season, Lennett says, “I believe we will see a stronger December this year because there are two extra shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas 2016 over 2015, and one of those extra shopping days is a Saturday. As we saw from toy purchases last year, consumers were out in full force the week before and the week of Christmas. I expect to see this last minute shopping behavior for toys again this year.”

Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Retail Tracking Service, January-September 2016 vs. 2015
Data is representative of retailers that participate in The NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service. NPD’s current estimate is that the Retail Tracking Service represents approximately 80% of the U.S. retail market for Toys.

November 1, 2016

Baker’s Dozen + 1: Stephen Baker’s Top Holiday 2016 Expectations

NPD Highlights: Consumer Tech for the Holidays

  1. PC holiday revenues revived – Sales will be the best in at least four years, as average sales prices  rise
  2. iPad Pros deliver big – Expect revenue increases for  Apple tablets, while Android consumer interest wanes
  3. Smartphone sales soar – New iPhones will exceed market expectations and drive the best smartphone market in years
  4. Cutting the (headphone) cord continues – Wireless headphones will be on many holiday shopping lists this year
  5. Online sales will not falter – Online revenue will account for as much as 33 percent of consumer electronics holiday sales
  6. Procrastinators rejoice – Latest sales holiday in years, as consumers will wait until the last minute to finish up shopping
  7. Cyber week sales struggles – With retailers offering aggressive promotions in-store and online the week of Thanksgiving, Cyber Monday and the week that follows will see challenges to keep up with Thanksgiving retail volumes
  8. No Black Friday surprises – Once again, TVs will dominate Black Friday (and, in fact, all of Thanksgiving Week)
  9. Wearables wear thin – While prices for wearables may begin to decrease (especially in the fitness segment where competition is growing), expect a slight slowdown in sales as consumers  interest fades
  10. 4K TV, the bigger the better 4K TVs, led by sales of screen sizes 55” and over, will account for six in every 10 holiday TV dollars spent
  11. Drone sales take to the sky – Interest and revenue peak as the available market expands
  12. VR is lukewarm – VR will elicit a tepid response from consumers
  13. Electronics gain a voice of their own – Voice enabled device sales will grow, as voice becomes a more important attribute this holiday

Baker’s Bonus: Strong TV unit sales will continue throughout the holiday season - extending the surprising demand increases we have seen thus far in 2016


“While sales trends have improved for many fundamentals of the consumer electronics market this year, holiday sales are always uncertain, especially in the largest categories such as TVs, phones and tablets,” said Stephen Baker, vice president, industry analyst at NPD. “2016 is no different than years past, but with recent new product introductions and categories like drones set to takeoff, we expect improvement in results from the 2015 holiday season.”

October 20, 2016

The Holiday Political Split-Screen (Infographic)

Election season is getting down to the wire, and the holiday season will begin in earnest soon after. What do Clinton and Trump supporters think about the weighty issues surrounding the 2016 holiday season? Whose supporters show more fiscal responsibility when it comes to their annual holiday shopping? Who’s more focused on getting the best deals? What will they buy?
October 17, 2016

A Political Holiday Split Screen

We’ve heard a lot – and are about to hear more – about how the Democratic and Republican presidential nominees feel on a wealth of issues. But what do their supporters feel about the weighty issues surrounding the 2016 holiday shopping season? And do their attitudes about holiday shopping tie back to the messages their candidate will likely be voicing during the final debate on October 19, 2016?    

Debt and government overspending are time honored election themes but whose supporters show more fiscal responsibility when it comes to their annual holiday shopping?

On the economy: Out of the gate, Trump supporters are more likely to say that the state of the economy will have a “significant impact” on their holiday purchases this year (15% of Trump supporters, vs. 11% of Clinton supporters).

On spending: Democrats are often accused by their political rivals of overspending and driving up the national debt, and echoes of this narrative can be seen to some degree among Clinton supporters’ spending habits and plans. Clinton supporters are more likely than Trump supporters to say they plan on spending more this holiday season than in 2015 (15% of Clinton supporters vs. 11% of Trump supporters), despite the fact that they’re also more likely to still be paying off debt from the last holiday season (23% of Clinton supporters vs. 17% of Trump supporters).

On budget cuts: As for getting the best deals, Trump supporters are more likely to identify special sale prices (64% of Trump supporters vs. 58% of Clinton supporters) and overall value for the price (62% of Trump supporters vs. 54% of Clinton supporters) as factors that will influence where they shop for the holidays this year.


Analyzing the results

Even this year’s intense election cycle has done little to dampen consumer confidence going into the holiday season, which we forecast to grow moderately.

And while there are significant differences between the presidential candidates, there is very little difference in how each of their supporters plans to approach their 2016 holiday shopping. Although marketing to Trump and Clinton supporters separately isn’t necessary, marketers do need to pay attention to the distraction this election is for consumers and how it will impact their shopping behavior, at least in the short term.  Retailers will need to find ways to break through the noise surrounding the election and be innovative in marketing to consumers. The best way to get the attention of the distracted is to give them a great deal. They’ll be back regardless of who wins the election. 


Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Annual Holiday Survey

October 10, 2016

Glad Tidings for Retailers This Holiday Season

Anticipated holiday spending on the rise; Two in 10 consumers have already started shopping for the holidays

Port Washington, N.Y. – October 10, 2016 – Retailers should have plenty to be thankful for in the coming holiday season. According to global information company The NPD Group’s 2016 Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey, consumers plan to spend an average of $636 on holiday-related expenses, up 3 percent from what they anticipated last year.

When questioned more broadly, 14 percent of consumers plan to spend “more” than they did during last year’s holiday season and 17 percent say they’ll spend “less” – virtually unchanged from 2015 results. Consumers are also less concerned about the economy spoiling their holiday fun: when asked how the state of the economy will influence their holiday purchases in 2016, the 12 percent saying it will have a “significant impact” is down from recent years (14 percent in 2015, 19 percent in 2014).

“All signs point to a holiday retail season that will outperform last year’s,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst, The NPD Group, Inc. “The unvarying holiday spending intentions expressed by consumers are a sign that even this year’s intense election cycle has done little to dampen consumer confidence going into the holiday season, which we forecast to grow moderately.”

Best laid plans

Planning to spend less and actually tightening the purse strings are hardly one and the same. Case in point: 16 percent of consumers were planning on cutting back during the 2015 holiday season, but more than 20 percent of consumers reflected that they actually spent more than they’d planned on their 2015 holiday purchases.

Some may be more determined than others to keep their spending in check this year – particularly those still dealing with the ghosts of holiday purchases past. More than half (57 percent) of consumers used credit cards for at least some of their holiday season purchases last year, of whom 22 percent still have at least some of that debt hanging over them. In the end, over a quarter of those still paying for their last year’s holiday purchases say they’ll spend less on Holiday 2016. 

Growth across purchase channels and product categories 

Retailers with online purchase channels stand to gain, as consumers plan on shopping more through online channels this year. On average, shoppers plan on doing 38 percent of their holiday shopping online (up from 33 percent last year and 29 percent in 2014).

Looking more specifically at where consumers plan to shop during the 2016 holiday season, growth is apparent across the marketplace, from online-only “e-tailers” to toy stores to specialty retailers in the beauty category (and most other purchase channels in between):

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights


A similar rising tide is evident looking at what consumers expect to buy this holiday season. Though outlooks vary among individual products (for example, purchase intent for movies/DVDs, music, and video games/ systems are all unchanged from 2015), aggregated product “supercategories” all show rising interest:

NPD Group Chart | Sales | Trends | Global Market Insights


“Consumer response is suggesting growth across retail channels, despite the growth and dominance of online shopping, which points to a sense of optimism,” said Cohen. “The lack of stand-out, must-have products this holiday season is benefiting the categories that are delivering on basic consumer wants, but marketers need to find new ways to engage and excite holiday shoppers to drive significant growth.”

Off to the races

Two in 10 consumers have already started their holiday shopping, and how early – or late – they kick things off can tell us a great deal about their shopping habits and plans.

For starters, earlier shopping correlates with bigger spending. Twenty-seven percent of heavy spenders (those planning to spend $750 or more) have already started shopping; this drops to 24 percent among midlevel spenders ($300-$749) and 17 percent among low spenders (<$300). None of this should be taken to mean that early shopping causes higher spending – from a causal standpoint, those with longer lists are more likely to feel a need to get an early start.

Just because they’re spending more, doesn’t mean they’re not spending carefully. Early shoppers are more likely to say they comparison shop before they buy gifts (45 percent vs. 30 percent of late shoppers) and that they plan on buying all their holiday gifts on sale (38 percent vs. 21 percent of late shoppers).

Oh, and in all the last minute rush, late shoppers may not have time to pick up a little something for themselves – they’re less likely than their early shopper counterparts to say that when they shop for others, they also shop for themselves (15 percent vs. 26 percent of early shoppers).

What holiday fatigue?

While there may be cynics among us, six in 10 consumers are looking forward to the holiday season, and nearly half say the simple act of going out shopping during the holidays puts them in the holiday spirit.

“Consumers are ready to spend this holiday season. However, more than ever before, how much they spend will be determined by their own perception of the products and promotions they are presented with, rather than the simple fact that the products and promotions are there,”  added Cohen.


The Holiday Purchase Intentions Survey is designed to better understand consumers’ shopping and spending intentions for the upcoming holiday season. An online survey was fielded in September, 2016 among a US representative sample of NPD online consumer panel members. The survey was completed by 3,499 individuals aged 18 and older. 

September 21, 2016

Election Distraction

With less than two months to go until the 2016 presidential election it is as if the circus has come to town. Regardless of your political affiliation, there is no denying that this presidential election year is unlike any in recent history. Presidential elections typically distract consumers and less of their attention is paid to spending, but this year the distraction is likely going to be bigger than ever. 

While elections are one of the many factors that can impact retail sales, looking at the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Retail Trade Report for 1992 through 2014, there is evidence of some spending shifts in election years and the first year of a new presidency. Retail spending growth slowed from 9 percent to 6 percent in 2000, and then to 3 percent when George W. Bush took office in 2001, according to the report. Spending began a decline in 2008 and continued into 2009 when Barack Obama became president. The excitement, uncertainty, and general fanfare around U.S. presidential elections are generally the cause for consumer distraction.

My opinion is that the distraction caused by this year’s presidential election will be felt by retailers big and small. The debates alone will cause a disruption in spending, as people tune-in and shift their focus from some of their usual behavior to the debates. Some of the resulting sales loss will be made up, but it will be difficult to recover valuable impulse purchases. The loss of impulse spending during a presidential election is significant for the U.S. apparel industry since unplanned purchases account for 29 percent of annual dollar sales*. 

The question is will the eight weeks of the holiday shopping season be enough opportunity to recapture the losses from election distraction? The answer is that holiday shopping is enough of a distraction to recapture consumer attention, but retailers will need to work at it. They’ll need to merchandise innovative products, offer meaningful promotions, and spread out stock replenishments throughout the holiday shopping season.  In other words, the key is to turn a distraction into an attraction.

*Source: The NPD Group, Inc. / Consumer Tracking Service, 2015

January 6, 2017

CT-Toy Sales Spiked 26 Percent in the Week Before Christmas

So what were all those last-minute shoppers buying? It appears toys were high on their shopping lists. Toy sales spiked 26 percent in the week leading up to Dec. 24, according to data released by The NPD Group. Marshal Cohen, NPD's chief industry analyst, called the week's success a "perfect storm of holiday shopping behavior."...

January 3, 2017

CT-Beantown as Shoetown Sneaker makers stake claim in Boston

"These companies cluster because they're primarily looking for talent. You want to be where the people are," said Matthew Powell, a sports industry analyst for The NPD Group, a New York-based market research firm. "They're also trying to stay close to their consumer. Millennials are clustering in large cities, so it's a great way to be plugged into where your consumer is."...

December 29, 2016

CT-Paper Calendars Endure Despite the Digital Age

The sales of appointment books and planners grew 10 percent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 to $342.7 million, and decorative and other calendars increased by 8 percent to $65 million in that time, according to figures from The NPD Group, a consumer research firm. Personalization has helped make planners and appointment books popular, Leen Nsouli, an analyst of the office supplies industry at NPD, said in an email....

December 28, 2016

CT-Business From Food to Fashion to Toys, What's Expected to Sell Big in 2017

The business of getting gorgeous roughly breaks down into four areas: makeup, skincare, hair care and fragrance. And Karen Grant, beauty industry analyst at The NPD Group, a market research firm, said makeup is where she expects we’ll see “seismic momentum” in 2017.  Eyebrow grooming products such as tinting gel and sculpting pencils should be especially popular, Grant said, continuing a recent hot streak....

December 23, 2016

CT-Why Michael Jordan Still Dominates The Basketball Shoe Market

On the current episode of Forbes SportsMoney, sneaker guru Matt Powell digs into the economics of the sneaker market, explaining why retro basketball shoes are hot and performance shoes are cold. Powell hangs his at The NPD Group, which predicted sales for Under Armour's Curry 2 shoe....

December 21, 2016

CT-Why Board Games Are On Trend for the Holidays

Fueled by interest in games like Hasbro's Speak Out and Pie Face Showdown as well as more adult games, including X-rated versions of longstanding favorites — think Trivial Pursuit and Taboo — the game segment has seen sales soar 20 percent this year, according to The NPD Group....

December 19, 2016

Thanksgiving Accounts for 30 Percent of Black Friday Two-Day Spend

The debate continued this holiday season as to whether or not retailers should remain open on Thanksgiving Day as some brands have trended toward in the last few years. The NPD Group's Checkout Tracking compiled hour-by-hour in-store transaction data from midnight on Thanksgiving through Black Friday at 10:00 p.m. "These results tell you that Thanksgiving Day is still meaningful, with over 30 percent of the two-day holiday’s spend happening on Thursday. That said, it’s highly competitive in the ...

Check back each week for more holiday insights, including...
  • NPD Holiday Shopping Bag 2016 Weekly Report – leading up to Thanksgiving, and through the end of 2016

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