- Eastern Group Publications/EGPNews - http://egpnews.com -

Nielsen Forecast: Consumers Spending Up for Holidays

Consumers are feeling more confident this holiday season, according to data from Nielsen, a leading global provider of measurement and information about what consumers watch and buy.

The company says holiday spending could be rosier than anticipated due to higher consumer confidence levels.

For sales in 89 categories across five key departments (food, beverages, alcohol, health/beauty and homecare), Nielsen is forecasting spending for November and December, 2012 to reach $98.3 billion. Nielsen expects dollar sales to increase 2.3 percent and unit sales to remain generally flat (0.1%).

“With nearly a quarter of consumers indicating they started their holiday shopping by mid-September, we expect ‘pragmatic enthusiasm’ to inch spending levels higher than last year,” said James Russo, vice president, global consumer insights, Nielsen. “Overall, this could be a season to celebrate. Nielsen’s Consumer Confidence Index is the highest since before the recession. Planned shopping-list usage is down so impulse buying could be up, and shoppers across the income spectrum say they plan to spend more in multiple areas”.

Items projected to do well over the holidays include:

Alcoholic Beverages — with wine leading the category with an expected 6 % dollar and unit growth. Liquor comes in a close second in the category, with beer rounding out the top three with three percent gains.

Food – the continued success of fresh produce (expected holiday sales and unit growth of 4.6% and 3.7% respectively) seems to signal more health-conscious consumers and home cooking this holiday season. Traditionally popular holiday food categories could do well also, including nuts and jams/jellies/spreads.

Non-Alcholic Beverages – coffee will lead all beverages with 10 percent dollar and 7 percent unit growth, but bottled water could have above-average dollar and unit growth as well, according to Nielsen.

In the health and beauty aids category, vitamins appear poised to be the bright spot in this department, with sales of cosmetics expected to increase as well.

Pet care will be the darling of the homecare category, according to Nielsen. With “spare-no-expense” pet owners expected to drive up sales over the holidays.

And according to Nielsen’s Holiday Shopping Survey, gift cards and technology products tied for the lead (11% each) when it comes to gift-spending. People who responded to the survey said they plan to spend more in these categories this year.