Econ Quiz: Winter Holiday Shopping

(Image Source: Ron Dauphin / Unsplash)

December 2022

The winter holidays, back-to-school shopping, and back-to-college shopping are the largest spending events in the U.S. retail calendar. Back-to-school sales reached $37.1 billion in 2021, up from $33.9 billion in 2020, and $26.2 billion in 2019. Back-to-college sales reached $71 billion in 2021, up from $67.7 billion in 2020 and $54.5 billion in 2019. The winter holidays, retail’s grand finale, are expected to reach $942 billion in sales this year, an increase of 6% from 2021.

Although back-to-school and back-to-college are smaller events in terms of their overall sales, the average amounts spent per shopper are comparable to the winter holidays. For example, the average back-to-school shopper spent $864 this year, slightly more than the average of $848 in 2021, $789 in 20202, and $697 in 2019. The average back-to-college shopper spent $1,199 in 2022, $1,200 in 2021, $1,059 in 2020, and $977 in 2019.

Winter holiday shopping estimates include gifts, food, clothing, cards, and decorations. Do you think the average winter holiday shopper will spend an amount closer to back-to-school or back-to college? How much is the typical winter holiday shopper expected to spend this year?

A. $1,999

B. $1,332

C. $1,099

D. $832

E. $532


Answer D. The impact on the average shopper’s pocketbook will be closer to back-to-school than back-to-college. The average winter holiday shopper is expected to spend $832 in 2022, down slightly from $879 in 2021, $880 in 2020, and $886 in 2019.

Inman, Danielle. “NRF Predicts Healthy Holiday Sales as Consumers Navigate Economic Headwinds.” National Retail Federation (3 November 2022).

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