US consumers will shell out 5% less this holiday season than before Covid-19, reflecting lower spending on items other than gifts, the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicted. Americans said they would spend approximately $997.73 on seasonal purchases, compared with $1,048 in 2019, the NRF said last week. Many shoppers also felt less inclined to purchase gifts for coworkers amid continued work-from-home situations. Compared with 2020, however, spending is stable: As per last year, consumers are keen to splurge on their friends and family, the NRF explained Consumers have allocated $648 of their total outlay to buying gifts, and $231 to non-gift holiday items such as candy, food, decorations and cards. The remaining $118 will go toward other non-gift purchases that take advantage of deals and promotions offered by retailers throughout the season, the survey found. This year, shoppers plan to start their festive buying earlier than usual, for fear of missing out on key holiday items due to the current supply-chain challenges. Nearly half of holiday shoppers stated they were concerned they’d have trouble finding items this year, with electronics, clothes and toys topping their lists of things they worried would not be available. “Over the last few years, consumers have demonstrated the desire to begin their holiday shopping earlier and earlier,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of strategy for Prosper Analytics, which conducted the survey with the NRF. “This year in particular, as retailers promote holiday inventory, they are taking advantage of additional offerings.” Those include free shipping, buying products online and picking them up in stores, as well as expedited shipping to ensure they receive their gifts on time, Rist explained. Half of holiday shoppers will start browsing and buying gifts before November, up from 42% in 2020. That figure is the highest percentage in the survey’s history, the NRF noted. Among the 7,921 consumers surveyed, 57% planned to shop online, while 47% said they would make their holiday purchases in department stores. Some 44% will visit discount stores and 43% will buy from grocery stores. Nearly a third of shoppers will go to clothing and accessories stores, with 24% purchasing specifically at a local or small business, the NRF added.