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US Holiday 2019 Review and Looking Ahead to Holiday 2020 Planning

Our 2019 Results and What They Mean for Challenges in 2020

About This Report
The 2019 holiday season posted modest retail sales growth amid a strong consumer economy but challenging calendar. With more economic risks ahead, the 2020 season may be even more challenged for growth.
Table of Contents

Executive Summary

The 2019 holiday season posted solid ecommerce and brick-and-mortar sales growth in line with our pre-season forecast. A strong consumer economy bolstered the cause, but a short holiday calendar weighed on spending growth. Concerns over a slowing economy suggest the 2020 holiday season will be even more challenged.

How much did retail spending increase during the 2019 holiday season?

Total retail spending was up 3.7% to $1.007 trillion, marking the first-ever trillion-dollar holiday season. Brick-and-mortar sales grew 2.4% to $869.40 billion, while ecommerce posted a more respectable growth rate of 13.2%, reaching $137.55 billion.

How much was spent online on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

Cyber Monday was the heaviest online spending day in history, jumping 19.7% to $9.4 billion, according to Adobe. Black Friday posted a similarly strong gain at 19.6%, reaching $7.4 billion as the second-heaviest day of the season, followed by Thanksgiving’s 14.5% increase to $4.2 billion.

Which retailers were the winners and losers of the 2019 holiday season?

Amazon was the big winner in ecommerce, while Walmart and other click-and-collect retailers flexed their omnichannel muscles. Department stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and JCPenney continued to struggle as mall foot traffic declined.

What is the forecast for holiday sales in 2020?

We predict the 2020 holiday season will see overall growth rates soften amid signs of a weakening consumer economy. We expect total retail spending to grow 3.4% to $1.042 trillion, but ecommerce growth will accelerate slightly to 13.9%, reaching $156.69 billion.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report includes a review of the 2019 US holiday season and an early preview of the 2020 holidays, including our recent US retail and ecommerce spending forecast.

KEY STAT: The 2019 US holiday season surpassed $1 trillion in sales for the first time in history.

Here’s what’s in the full report


Exportable files for easy reading, analysis and sharing.


Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

8expert perspectives

Insights from industry and company leaders.

Table of Contents

  1. Executive Summary
  2. Holiday 2019 Review: Short Calendar Weighs on Growth
  3. Holiday 2020 Preview: What to Expect and How to Plan for It
  1. Key Takeaways
  2. eMarketer Interviews
  3. Read Next
  1. Sources
  2. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report

Interviewed for This Report

Keith Anderson
Senior Vice President, Strategy and Insights
Interviewed January 15, 2020
Lauren Bitar
Head of Retail Consulting
Interviewed January 17, 2020
Dani Cushion
Interviewed January 16, 2020
Rob Garf
Vice President, Industry Strategy and Insights
Interviewed January 16, 2020
Satish Jindel
Founder and President
Interviewed January 6, 2020
Michael Klein
Global Director, Industry Strategy and Marketing, Retail, Travel and Consumer Goods
Interviewed January 16, 2020
Steve Sadove
Mastercard SpendingPulse
Former Chairman and CEO of Saks and Senior Advisor to Mastercard
Interviewed January 23, 2020
Michelle Skupin
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
Interviewed December 5, 2019


Andrew Lipsman


Bianca Carasus
Mark Dolliver
Principal Analyst
Lucy Koch
Junior Analyst
Cindy Liu
Senior Forecasting Analyst
Amy Rotondo
Research Manager, US
Yoram Wurmser
Principal Analyst
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