Conventional wisdom says that the weeks leading up to Christmas are the most important time of the year for retailers in the United States. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are going to spend between $755 and $767 billion in the months of November and December this year, with average spending for gifts and other holiday-related items amounting to $998 per consumer.
But how reliant are retailers on a successful holiday season? Can two to three months really make or break an entire year? Well, it depends. According to retail sales figures published by the U.S. Census Bureau, some types of retailers are more reliant on holiday season sales than others.
If retail sales were distributed evenly throughout the year, the holiday quarter should account for 25 percent of each year’s total sales. As our chart illustrates, most retailers’ holiday sales clock in way above that benchmark though. Jewelry stores for example generated 34.7 percent of their 2019 sales between October and December last year, which is not surprising considering that necklaces, earrings and other jewelry are among the most popular Christmas gifts year after year.
Across all categories, the holiday season is not as important as one might think though. Last year, the fourth quarter accounted for 26.8 percent of total retail sales in the United States.