holiday shpper

Holiday Retail Forecasts and Predictions for 2022

Did you blink? Summer is over and the holiday season has arrived already for budget-seeking shoppers. Here to help retailers strategize yet again, RIS presents our third annual guide to peak selling season.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
Jamie Grill-Goodman profile picture

Summer may have flown by, but nonetheless, it’s time for retailers to prepare and rollout their peak selling season plans.

To help readers develop their strategies, RIS once again tapped retail experts to get their predictions and forecasts. We also scoured recent retail surveys and research to provide the top data needed to prepare.

Among our findings, we’re mainly hearing COVID concerns have waned this holiday season, replaced by inflation and inventory woes. But despite this holiday season’s challenges, most predictions expect an increase in holiday shopping. Tapping social media channels, nostalgia, and plugging gift cards are a few of the tactics expected to move the needle on shoppers’ purchases.

Consumers are also expected to start shopping early this year, so there’s no time like the present to start reaching out to shoppers. Whether they are shopping in-store or online, consumers are looking for deals and inspiration, whether that be experiences or expert content to get them in the holiday spirit.

So grab your pumpkin spice latte and get ready to dig in. Below, RIS is pleased to present retailers with our third annual guide to the peak selling season.

[Compare to last year’s predictions here: 2021 Holiday Retail Forecasts and Predictions]


What Experts Say

“Heading into the peak period, retailers are still facing inventory imbalances – too much inventory of products that were hot sellers during the pandemic and now consumers have moved on, and not enough inventory of products that reflect current consumer demand,” Nikki Baird, VP of strategy at Aptos, tells RIS. To correct this imbalance, we’ll see more retailers return to discounting this holiday season. But with shoppers expecting inflation to continue through the season, they’re looking to spend earlier than ever, and may not stretch their budgets all the way through the traditional holiday selling season, so the retailers who have the best chance to appeal to consumers will roll out their stronger promotions earlier, rather than waiting until December.”

“Consumers will demonstrate less interest in traditional shopping days. Days have become weeks, (eg Black Friday to Thanksgiving Week, Cyber Monday to Cyber Week etc),” says Howard Meitiner, managing director at Carl Marks Advisors. “Holiday shopping will start even earlier to avoid potential supply issues and early November promotional activity (in 2021, 50% of consumers started holiday shopping in November). Retailers that ‘get ready’ early will be the winners. Google research confirmed that 57% of consumers would start shopping earlier in November 2022.” Additionally, he adds that retailers that have “increased their visibility through strategic partnerships, will benefit in terms of sales from such exposure (Neiman’s/Farfetch, Toys R Us/Macy’s, Amazon/Kohls, Ulta/Target etc). This is a winning strategy when the partnership adds value to both parties.”

[See more: How Innovative Store Partnerships Are Changing the Face of Retail]

“As inflation weighs on consumer demand, we can expect consumers to continue to shift how they spend their holiday budget this upcoming season,” says Nick Handrinos, vice chair, Deloitte LLP, and U.S. retail, wholesale and distribution and consumer products leader. “Retail sales are set to increase as a result of higher prices, and this dynamic has the potential to further drive e-commerce sales as consumers look for online deals to maximize their spending. Retailers across channels who remain aligned with consumer demand and offer convenient and affordable options can be well positioned for success this season.”        

“In today’s highly constrained labor market even small indications of appreciation to make individuals’ time on the job more pleasant are important,” says Colin Thompson, vice president of NA Operations at Vanderlande. “Simple things like encouraging employees to take breaks, providing refreshments or giving deserved praise – and when possible financial recognition – to strong performers can mean the difference between being supported by a team of engaged employees and being understaffed. Now is also the time to cross train trusted and reliable workers to prepare for peak season.”

[See more: How to Develop and Preserve the Best Workforce]

Financial issues have firmly replaced COVID as consumers’ primary concern when it comes to planning and shopping for the upcoming holiday season, Emodo’s “The Annual Holiday Shopper Survey for Marketers” report finds. In fact, concerns related to COVID have decreased significantly, from 52% (in 2021) to 16% this year, while the financial concerns have surged 153%. “Though we’ve made it through the peak of the pandemic, being plagued by COVID for the past two and a half years coupled with the looming recession fears has consumers weary about the economy,” notes Jake Moskowitz​, head of the Emodo Institute & Emodo’s VP of Data Strategy. “Whereas consumers aren’t nearly as concerned with the safety of their health by shopping in-person, nearly half believe we’re already in a recession, which will lead to an environment in which many shoppers will shop less this year.”

“This holiday season, consumers may find themselves looking for ways to navigate the inflationary environment – from searching for deals to making trade-offs that allow for extra room in their gift-giving budgets,” said Michelle Meyer, U.S. Chief Economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. “New job creation, rising wages and lingering savings should have many consumers ready and able to spend."

"Retailers will continue to deal with an inventory glut throughout the holiday season," predicts  Sivakumar Lakshmanan, CEO and head of the AI Forecasting & Supply Chain business unit at, now part of Zebra Technologies. "Most retailers had already ordered their goods earlier in the year when economic conditions were not as cautious. Despite YOY retail sales growing, they are not keeping up with inflation; hence, unit sales are down. The headwinds are strong. We expect consumers to shop early for the holidays, which retailers can capitalize upon with early discounting. If we’ve learned anything in the last two years is that consumer behaviors can shift dramatically. Those retailers that have invested in technology to anticipate demand changes will be better positioned to place and price their inventory if the consumer wallet tightens further. We’ll see further holiday discounting as retailers free up cash and remove excess inventory. But there will be definite winners and losers for those retailers who couldn’t capture earlier sales and adequately adjust to consumer buying habits."

a person using a laptop computer sitting on top of a table
Holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 4% and 6% in 2022, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast.

2022 Holiday Spending

Holiday retail sales are likely to increase between 4% and 6% in 2022, according to Deloitte’s annual holiday retail forecast. Overall, Deloitte’s retail and consumer products practice projects holiday sales will total $1.45 to $1.47 trillion during the November to January timeframe. In 2021, holiday sales grew by 15.1% in the same period. Deloitte also forecasts e-commerce sales will grow by 12.8% to 14.3%, year-over-year, during the 2022-2023 holiday season. This will likely result in e-commerce holiday sales reaching between $260 billion and $264 billion this season.

This holiday season, U.S. retail sales excluding automotive are expected to increase 7.1% year over year, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse annual holiday forecast (Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. It is not adjusted for inflation. The holiday forecast can be downloaded here.) E-commerce is anticipated to increase despite significant growth last year, up +4.2% YOY/ +69.2% YO3Y, as the channel remains a convenient way for consumers to check prices in real time. In-store retail sales are expected to be up +7.9% YOY/ +10.4% YO3Y. “In-store experiences draw shoppers to stores: From the return of holiday doorbusters to new brick-and-mortar collaborations, retailers are aiming to boost holiday spirits by driving consumers into stores.”

Three in four U.S. adults (74%) plan to spend the same or more money this year on holiday shopping as they did last year, according to findings from Samba TV’s 2022 Holiday Report conducted in tandem with global research firm HarrisX. The average adult plans to spend $1,041 this holiday season and 83% of millennials plan to spend the same or more money this year on holiday shopping.

More than two thirds of shoppers surveyed expect inflation to impact their holiday gifting budget, according to Coresight Research’s consumer holiday shopping study commissioned by GiftNow, coming out soon. Interestingly, and in contrast to inflation concerns, the study found 55% of U.S. gift shoppers expect to spend in excess of $500 on gifts this holiday season, up from 48% in 2021.  

Future Publishing’s consumer behavior study that projects 76% of U.S. consumers plan to shop for deals on Black Friday and spend roughly $158 billion during the holiday shopping season. Shopper budgets remain significant, with average budgets of $574 for Black Friday deals and $735 for holiday gifting.

While gifting is still a top priority, 61% of consumers anticipate spending more or the same on shopping for themselves and their home for holiday 2022, a new study of U.S. consumers from LTK finds.

Editor’s Note

Recent RIS research shows half of retailers are capable of making personalized recommendations. As shoppers are hit with an onslaught of promotions, sales, and holiday content, if your organization is capable, cut through the noise and provide overwhelmed, time-starved shoppers messaging with just one item on sale recommend for them to buy. The less is more approach can help clear inventory while boosting loyalty from shoppers who appreciate the personalized help.

Engaging Holiday Shoppers

Respondents to Simon Data’s new study, “Consumer Holiday Shopping in 2022,” overwhelmingly prefer email for almost every type of communication, whether it’s a new product announcement or a response to an inquiry. Thirty-four percent prefer to be contacted via SMS about at-home shipping updates; whereas, 27% prefer to be contacted via SMS with item back-in-stock messages.

“In terms of hottest trends for 2022, I’d have to say – nostalgia! This is driven not just by cultural phenomena like Stranger Things and Gen Z general affinity for throwback times,” Baird, tells RIS. “Pandemic-weary consumers are looking for more of that feeling of ‘returning to normal’ and seeking to re-establish family traditions or create new ones. I think we’ll see more retailers appealing to that sense of nostalgia both in their offerings and their messaging.”

According to Future Publishing, 94% of respondents will be turning to expert content online to seek help navigating rising costs, 56% of respondents want to know where to get a good deal, and 40% want expert product reviews to get the exact product for their needs. Retailers who have invested in and embrace Social Media will benefit from "social commerce” drawing attention to holiday shopping campaigns, says Meitiner. “This is the biggest single digital trend, (Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook etc). 87% of Gen Z shoppers, expect to be inspired by social media for holiday gifts. Retailers who expand their range of shopping channels will be winners.”

Creators are 4x more influential to consumers than celebrity posts and also ranked above social ads, according to  LTK.

Almost half of consumers (48%) are likely to purchase a product directly from TikTok, while 65% have purchased from a streaming platform (Hulu, Netflix, etc.), according to Jungle Scout’s findings from itsQ3 2022 Consumer Trends Report.

One in four U.S. and U.K. shoppers (42%) explicitly said they will leave a site if shipping options are limited or they don’t have a buy online pick-up in store option (BOPIS). Also noteworthy is that 35% of respondents said they are turned off by restrictive returns policies, according to the 2022 Holiday Shopping Report: Spending Trends & Impact, conducted by Coveo in partnership with Arlington Research.

holiday shipping
One in three (33%) consumers say that the most reasonable timeline for when they expect holiday gifts ordered online to be delivered is two-three days, according to Radial’s consumer insights study.

Need to Knows this Peak Season

Nearly six in 10 shoppers would like to receive physical gift cards this holiday season, topping the list of desired gifts—and nearly six in 10 expect to buy physical gift cards for their holiday gift-giving plans, according to Coresight Research’s consumer holiday shopping study commissioned by GiftNow.

When looking ahead to holiday 2022, customers are reporting an expected 20% increase in gift card purchases. 57% of customers are looking for sales, deals and coupons more often as prices increase, according to  84.51°’s 2022 holiday outlook. 

To help save money, consumers are shopping earlier. Almost half (47%) of shoppers plan to start buying their gifts between September and mid-October, and 36% say they plan to shop even earlier, starting in early September, according to LTK.

Three out of ten consumers have begun shopping as of September, and 70% expect to start before Thanksgiving, finds  Jungle Scout.

Getting ready for the all-important holiday season, executives were asked “In staffing up for the Holiday Season, what are your biggest challenges?” for Multimedia Plus’s sixth survey measuring the effects on pressing technology, training, and spending priorities in the retail and hospitality industries. Sixty-five percent of respondents said recruiting. Onboarding new associates (14%) and other issues such as scheduling (8%) are taking a back burner. “After two years of adjusting to a new normal, retailers and hospitality executives are scaling for pent up demand. Getting enough trained staff in place is a major focus and is more important than other issues that we have seen in the past,” explains CEO and CTO David Harouche.

Six in 10 logistics professionals are worried again this year about inventory shortages and 82% are worried about missing delivery windows, according to DispatchTrack’s 2022 Last Mile Holiday Perspective. One in three are preparing for the holidays earlier this year than last year and nearly half will rent additional warehouse space or trucks.

One in three (33%) consumers say that the most reasonable timeline for when they expect holiday gifts ordered online to be delivered is two-three days – this is a 10% YOY increase, according to Radial’s consumer insights study.In 2020 research indicated only 14% expected their holiday gifts within two days. Referencing Radial’s 2018 consumer findings, over a third (34%) of consumers expected to receive packages in two days or less, showing just how much consumers have gone back to pre-pandemic expectations.Additionally, free shipping remains a top deciding factor when consumers consider making a purchase from a brand online. Demand and interest for new delivery innovations is also growing as 46% of consumers said they would select drone delivery if it were available to them in the next year.