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NRF Top Picks for Toys and Gifts for the Winter Holidays

Latest NRF survey shows shoppers’ favorite items for holiday gift-giving.

Jane Neal

November 21, 2023

3 Min Read
Star Wars Executor Super Star Destroyer, LEGO
"Star Wars" Executor Super Star DestroyerLEGO

Gifts and especially toys are top-of-mind for countless consumers as the holiday season nears. We saw retailers sharing their top toy lists for 2023 back in September. Now that the biggest weekend of the season is here, shoppers are zeroing in on the best deals and the most popular gifts.

Three-quarters (74%) of consumers plan to shop during the upcoming five-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and the latest survey from the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics shows the top items consumers are shopping for throughout the season, including the most popular toys. 

“This holiday season, particularly the busy shopping days surrounding Thanksgiving, marks an important time of year for many Americans who enjoy traditions and celebrations with family and friends,” says Matthew Shay, president, chief executive officer, NRF. “Retailers are stocked and ready with competitively priced products to help customers stretch their budgets and find all the items on their holiday lists.”

Two of the top five gift categories consumers plan to give this year are toys at 37% and books, video games and other media at 31%.  

The biggest film of the year was “Barbie,” with a worldwide box office of $1,441,740,954 according to Box Office Mojo. So, when Walmart released its Top Toys list in August, it was not surprising to see Barbie toys like the Barbie Roller Doll and Barbie Dreamhouse topping the list. When Target released its 2023 Bullseye’s Top Toys list in October, it also featured Barbie’s Dreamhouse, as well as DisneyStar Wars, FAO Schwarz, LEGO, Hot Wheels and many more.
This is in line with the NRF’s recent survey, which found the top toys for boys this year include LEGOs, Hot Wheels and cars, and the top toys for girls include Barbie, dolls and LEGOs.

Related:National Retail Federation Shares 2023 Holiday Sales Forecast

Barbie’s Dreamhouse, Mattel

Aside from toys, according to the NRF, other top gifting categories include clothing (56%), followed by gift cards at 44% and food/candy at 29%. A record 28% of consumers intend to buy personal care and beauty items as gifts this holiday season, up from about one-quarter in recent years. 

When people are searching for gift ideas, the majority turn to the internet. The NRF found the most popular source for gift inspiration remains online search (44%), followed by friends and family (35%), in-store (32%) and wish lists (26%).

“Social media continues to be a popular destination to find holiday gift ideas, especially among younger consumers, who are turning to TikTok and Instagram for inspiration,” says Phil Rist, executive vice president, strategy, Prosper Insights & Analytics.

Related:Retailers Share Top Toy Lists

One ultra-convenient present that never seems to go out of style is the gift card. The most popular are for restaurants (30%), followed by bank-issued gift cards (26%), department stores (26%) and coffee shops (21%). Total gift card spending is expected to reach $29.3 billion, up from $28.6 billion last year. Similar to last year, holiday shoppers plan to purchase between three to four gift cards and spend an average of $49.43 per card ($166.69 per person). 

As the apex of retailers’ Golden Quarter looms, the NRF expects holiday shoppers will spend $875 on average on gifts, decorations, food and other key seasonal items … ching, ching! 

About the Author(s)

Jane Neal

Content Editor, License Global

Jane Neal is a Content Editor for License Global. Working remotely in the great state of Wisconsin, Jane specializes in retail and pop-culture trends.

She has worked extensively in the communication field as a managing editor, advertising copywriter, technical writer and journalist. She detoured for several years into academia where she taught journalism, English and humanities at the college level.

A complete Marvel nerd, she enjoys food, films, fishing, friends and family … and alliteration.

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