Winter Holiday: What’s In Store?

According to the monthly Retail Trade Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, 20% of annual retail sales (excluding automotive and food service) occur in November and December, and when it comes to the holidays, shoppers have no shortage of stores to choose from. With so much on the line, advertising plays a crucial role for retailers trying to attract potential buyers into their stores. Indeed, retailers need to devise and execute differentiated strategies to stand out from the competition during this key time period, which is starting soon.

We examined advertising spend during the 2015 winter holiday season to see who came out on top. For our analysis, we defined the winter holiday season as the period from Nov 1st through Jan 3rd, the Sunday after New Year’s Day. Retail was the #1 ad category during this period with $4.35 billion of spending, a 15.4 percent share.

Overall retail advertising expenditures increased 1.4 percent YoY. For individual segments within retail, ad spending results were mixed. Home retailers saw an increase of 6.9 percent. Conversely, jewelry stores declined by 4.7 percent.

The top ten advertisers within retail accounted for approximately 30 percent of 2015 holiday expenditures however only two increased their budgets YoY – Kohl’s and Amazon. Collectively the YoY change in spending for these 10 retailers was minus 3 percent.

Though the top 10 retailers experienced a 3 percent decrease in spend, total retail ad spending was up. This growth had to be attributed to advertisers further down the rankings. In fact, a healthy contribution came from the next tier of retailers, those ranked #11 to #25. As a group, their spending increased 6 percent versus the prior year. Some increases were minor, but there were select retailers who had tremendous increases in spend YoY including PetSmart (+40%) and Zulily (+146%).



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