Retailers spent 6% less on advertising during the 2018 holiday season, dropping from $3.9 billion to $3.7 billion year over year, according to a new report from data analytics firm Kantar emailed to Retail Dive. The top retailers for November through December of 2018, by ad spend, were Walmart, Target, Amazon, Macy's and Kohl's.
While Amazon increased its advertising spending by 84% from 2017 to 2018, other major retailers like Walmart, Target and Macy's spent less or about the same amount, the report found.
Though retailers overall are spending less on advertising, digital (17%) and paid social (16%) advertising saw the greatest increase in 2018, the report found. Meanwhile, ad spending on television decreased by 3%, — though the medium continues to account for half of all ad spend — and newspaper spending declined by 10%.
It's easy to see why retailers are spending more of their money on digital and social media ads. After all, a recent PwC report found that more than half of holiday shoppers will make their purchases online for the holidays.
Kantar's latest report builds on the firm's previous research indicating that advertisers are spending less on holiday ads as time goes on.
As for when retailers are spending their holiday dollars, Home Depot spent the most (47%) on holiday ads before Thanksgiving, J.C. Penney spent the most (21%) on holiday ads during the week of Thanksgiving and HomeGoods took the lead in post-Thanksgiving ad spending (64%), according to Kantar's report.
The week around Thanksgiving remains an important marker for retailers — when many pull out their biggest sales or, like REI, make a statement by staying out of the sales rush Black Friday brings.
Last year, retailers stepped up their in-store and online shopping experiences to meet consumer demand around Black Friday. Research from ShopKick last year indicated that Gen Z consumers were about 10% more willing than Gen X consumers to wait all night for Black Friday sales last year. And though Gen Z and millennial shoppers will do a great deal of online shopping, they, as well as their predecessors, value the in-store experience.