With the holidays quickly approaching, consumers are already preparing for the hustle and bustle of another season poised to bring in billions for retailers around the country.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend $465.6 billion this holiday season—a 2.8% percent increase from last year. Individually, holiday shoppers will shell out an average of $704.18 this year on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, which represents a decline of $14.70 per shopper from last year.

According to the NRF, between 25-40% of all annuals sales made in the United States each year occurs during this particular time of the year. Even more telling of the significance of this season is the emergence of Thanksgiving as the new day to spend (as opposed to Black Friday). In fact, some 22 million consumers put down their forks and headed shopping on Turkey Day in 2010—more than double the number of consumers that did similarly just five years earlier.

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Not all that holiday shopping will be done in the spirit of giving, the NRF noted. Close to 60 percent of shoppers plan to use the deals and discounts offered by retailers to make non-gift purchases, too. In fact, American consumers plan to spend an average of $130.43 on non-gift purchases during the holidays—a bump of $18.23 from last year.

What Are Americans Buying?

The lion’s share of money spent during this holiday season will be on items for the family ($403.26 on average), while consumers plan to spend a combined average of $112.69 on friends, co-workers and others. Holiday decorations, greeting cards, candy, food and flowers will eat an average of $141.50 out of consumers’ wallets this year.

And, what makes a great gift? According to more than half of those polled by NRF, gift cards are simple and cheap way to show you care during the holidays. Half of those polled said they’d love that card to be accompanied by clothing or clothing accessories (50%), while consumer electronics was the third most popular gift chosen (35.4%). Jewelry came in fourth at 22.8% while personal care items came in last, garnering 19.3% interest from gift recipients.

The most popular shopping destination for consumers this holiday season will be discount stores, which will be visited by 66.1% of consumers this year. Department stores will also see a lot of foot traffic this year as 56.9% of shoppers plan on visiting them to meet their holiday shopping needs.

Online Sales Will Continue To Be Popular

Those looking to stay on budget may want to steer clear of the internet this year. According to the NRF those that shop online end up spending an average of 25% more on their holiday expenditures than if they’d headed to the store. This, of course, may even out when factoring in the cost of gasoline, which was just over $3.45 per gallon at the end of October according to the Department of Energy.

Still, the convenience of being able to make purchase definitely beats the long lines, traffic and lack of parking store-bound consumers are sure to encounter. In addition to allowing shoppers to easily compare prices in their pajamas, retailers have also added to the ease of online shopping by offering free shipping under certain conditions.

The proliferation of smartphones and other internet-enabled mobile devices has also contributed to the ease of online shopping, and is directly correlates to age. In fact, 45% of those between the ages of 18 to 24 plan to use their smartphones to make holiday purchases this year. Just 6.9% if those 65 and older plan to do similarly in comparison.

Head to the NRF’s website for more insight into this and previous shopping seasons.

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