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Holiday advertising in the U.S. - statistics & facts

The holiday season in the United States represents the pinnacle of American commercialism, stretching out from October to January and encompassing the iconic festivities of Halloween, U.S. Thanksgiving, and Christmas, without forgetting Hannukah and Kwanzaa. The increasingly early appearance of Christmas ads and decorations has led some to jokingly dub the season as “Hallowthanksmas.” The season is typically considered the busiest time of the year for the retail and advertising sectors alike, with an increase in trade that usually kicks off on Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - and reaches its zenith around Christmas. Despite the several concerns consumers had because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, holiday retail sales summed up to an impressive 777 billion U.S. dollars, for a cost of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars invested by the sector in holiday season advertising.

How to reach consumers

The holiday season in the U.S. has increasingly been playing out in a digital arena, with online ad revenues consistently spiking in the fourth quarter of every year before returning to normal in the first quarter of the new year. The rise of digital also rang true from a consumer perspective, with half of surveyed U.S. shoppers stating brand or company websites were the best channels to understand a product’s benefits. More than eight out of ten Americans also said customer reviews influenced their purchasing decisions, while almost half of them said they liked posts from a brand or company on social media. Even small businesses, with very limited marketing budgets, invest in digital advertising to grab the attention of online consumers. This is likely to pay off, as a great majority of U.S. consumers intended to purchase gifts and other seasonal necessities at small businesses, likely as a form of support in the face of economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost half of consumers said they enjoyed seeing holiday food advertising, with one third saying they put them in the right mood for the season. A new, innovative way to reach consumers during the holiday season would be to invest in podcast and other online audio ads. Digital audio ads are the most under-invested media in the U.S., taking a considerably larger share of consumers' media time than share of ad spending.

Halloween

Halloween would not be Halloween without a hearty dose of candy, so it comes as no surprise to see confection brands like Hershey's leading the way in digital advertising spending over the frightening festivity. Candy craze set aside, confectionery came second to arts and entertainment when it came to the category with the highest Halloween-themed digital advertising spending.

Black Friday

The digital advertising spending for Black Friday saw a nearly nine million U.S. dollar decrease in 2020 compared to the previous year. Walmart was the festivity’s top advertiser, with one tenth of total ad spending. Major retailers such as Target saw their Black Friday digital ad spending grow from 2019 to 2020, while others like Home Depot and Kohl’s saw it diminish. A clear majority of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers heard about the weekend’s deals digitally, via online ads, promotional emails, or social media. Physical catalogues or toy books appeared to increasingly be a thing of the past, with little more than one fourth of shoppers saying they took them into account. Radio was the medium with the highest share of Black Friday and Cyber Weekend ads in 2020, with more than half of total ads. Four out of ten ads appeared on television, while four out of a hundred appeared on online displays.

Christmas

The jolliest holiday of them all is customarily also the largest economic stimulant, with sales surging significantly in almost all retail areas. Since the 2008 recession, the growth of Christmas holiday retail sales has been steady. Local advertisers expressed optimism towards Christmas retail sales for 2021, with more than half of them expecting them to be better than in 2020. Around four out of 10 Christmas shoppers said they were most likely to start buying holiday gifts before the end of October, with only one in 10 planning to start in December. After more than a year of pandemic-related sacrifices, U.S. consumers are willing to spend more to make their Christmas truly memorable. This hype could signify a renewed increase in the number of presents that will be found under Christmas trees from Anchorage to Atlanta - a number that has been dwindling since the late 2000s recession.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Holiday advertising in the U.S. " and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Reaching consumers

Halloween

Black Friday

Christmas

Other interesting statistics

Holiday advertising in the U.S. - statistics & facts

The holiday season in the United States represents the pinnacle of American commercialism, stretching out from October to January and encompassing the iconic festivities of Halloween, U.S. Thanksgiving, and Christmas, without forgetting Hannukah and Kwanzaa. The increasingly early appearance of Christmas ads and decorations has led some to jokingly dub the season as “Hallowthanksmas.” The season is typically considered the busiest time of the year for the retail and advertising sectors alike, with an increase in trade that usually kicks off on Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - and reaches its zenith around Christmas. Despite the several concerns consumers had because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, holiday retail sales summed up to an impressive 777 billion U.S. dollars, for a cost of 2.5 billion U.S. dollars invested by the sector in holiday season advertising.

How to reach consumers

The holiday season in the U.S. has increasingly been playing out in a digital arena, with online ad revenues consistently spiking in the fourth quarter of every year before returning to normal in the first quarter of the new year. The rise of digital also rang true from a consumer perspective, with half of surveyed U.S. shoppers stating brand or company websites were the best channels to understand a product’s benefits. More than eight out of ten Americans also said customer reviews influenced their purchasing decisions, while almost half of them said they liked posts from a brand or company on social media. Even small businesses, with very limited marketing budgets, invest in digital advertising to grab the attention of online consumers. This is likely to pay off, as a great majority of U.S. consumers intended to purchase gifts and other seasonal necessities at small businesses, likely as a form of support in the face of economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost half of consumers said they enjoyed seeing holiday food advertising, with one third saying they put them in the right mood for the season. A new, innovative way to reach consumers during the holiday season would be to invest in podcast and other online audio ads. Digital audio ads are the most under-invested media in the U.S., taking a considerably larger share of consumers' media time than share of ad spending.

Halloween

Halloween would not be Halloween without a hearty dose of candy, so it comes as no surprise to see confection brands like Hershey's leading the way in digital advertising spending over the frightening festivity. Candy craze set aside, confectionery came second to arts and entertainment when it came to the category with the highest Halloween-themed digital advertising spending.

Black Friday

The digital advertising spending for Black Friday saw a nearly nine million U.S. dollar decrease in 2020 compared to the previous year. Walmart was the festivity’s top advertiser, with one tenth of total ad spending. Major retailers such as Target saw their Black Friday digital ad spending grow from 2019 to 2020, while others like Home Depot and Kohl’s saw it diminish. A clear majority of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shoppers heard about the weekend’s deals digitally, via online ads, promotional emails, or social media. Physical catalogues or toy books appeared to increasingly be a thing of the past, with little more than one fourth of shoppers saying they took them into account. Radio was the medium with the highest share of Black Friday and Cyber Weekend ads in 2020, with more than half of total ads. Four out of ten ads appeared on television, while four out of a hundred appeared on online displays.

Christmas

The jolliest holiday of them all is customarily also the largest economic stimulant, with sales surging significantly in almost all retail areas. Since the 2008 recession, the growth of Christmas holiday retail sales has been steady. Local advertisers expressed optimism towards Christmas retail sales for 2021, with more than half of them expecting them to be better than in 2020. Around four out of 10 Christmas shoppers said they were most likely to start buying holiday gifts before the end of October, with only one in 10 planning to start in December. After more than a year of pandemic-related sacrifices, U.S. consumers are willing to spend more to make their Christmas truly memorable. This hype could signify a renewed increase in the number of presents that will be found under Christmas trees from Anchorage to Atlanta - a number that has been dwindling since the late 2000s recession.

Other interesting statistics

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