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 $728 and $731 billion in the months of November and December this year, with average spending for gifts and other holiday-related items amounting to $1,048 per consumer.
But how reliant are retailers on a successful holiday season? Can two 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, November and December should account for 16.7 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 generate 26.7 percent of their annual sales in November 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.