NEW YORK—With less than three weeks until the Christmas holiday, U.S. retailers are crossing their fingers and hoping that consumers will keep spending. However, many shoppers started their holiday shopping earlier this year, which meant that the big Thanksgiving weekend shopping events—from Black Friday to Cyber Monday—weren’t as strong as stores expected.
Still, analysts expect retail sales will hit lofty levels in 2021, but there does seem to be a lack of holiday buzz. This is what Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of Coresight Research, told CNBC recently.
“Typically, people are like, ‘How’s your holiday shopping going? What are you getting so-and-so?,’” she noted. “I feel like some of that we don’t have this year—and I’m not sure why it is.” 
This was borne out in the data reported by the National Retail Federation (NRF) last week. The total number of shoppers and average spending dropped during the extended Thanksgiving weekend compared with each of the past two years, the NRF said. Yet, the group reiterated its forecast for a record holiday season and projected total spending in the range of $843.4 billion and $859 billion in November and December.
Other holiday expectations from Coresight Research:
* More than one-fifth of consumers expect to spend more on food at home this holiday season, versus less than one in 10 who expect to spend less. This represents the greatest net positive difference—plus 12 percent—among all categories tracked by Coresight Research’s recent survey.
* Among nonfood categories, apparel and footwear are currently poised to make the most meaningful gains this year, based on the high proportion of respondents expecting to spend more.
* Dining out and traveling saw high proportions of consumers report plans to spend less this season; traveling to visit people is net negative in November after being marginally net positive in October.