Study: Consumers Humming Toward Holidays

Holiday-Shopping

New consumer insights from Deloitte indicate that while shoppers aren’t about to break out in a holiday shopping frenzy in the next few weeks, they’re not exactly downbeat, either.

While 67% of respondents in Deloitte’s 26th annual holiday survey do expect the economy to either stay the same or worsen in the months ahead, 59% plan to spend the more or same on the holiday anyway. That represents a small decline from last year, but is still 8 percentage points higher than in 2009, when the r-word was still top of mind in America’s living rooms.

Higher-income families are more likely to be spending at the same or higher levels, while lower-income families say they intend to cut back: Households earning $100,000 or more say they expect to trim 2%, and spend an average of $812 on presents. Families earning less than $100,000 say they intend to cut back 26% to $291. And of those cutting back -- 42% of the overall survey -- 63% cite higher food prices and 60% blame higher gasoline costs.

Across the board, people plan to buy fewer gifts -- an average of 14.7 holiday gifts this year, down from 16.8 last year. (That’s the fourth year it’s declined.)

Gift cards are also losing their appeal, falling from the No. 1 spot after seven years. Clothing is now the most likely gift, with 48%; gifts cards are second at 45%.

Internet shopping surged in popularity, climbing 13 percentage points to tie with discounters as the No. 1 place to buy presents. And discounters got dissed, sliding 10 percentage points from last year’s survey.

Online shoppers say they are most motivated by good deals, and are hunting for free shipping. And 27% say they are also seeking bargains via smartphones, while 44% say they will use social media.

The survey, fielded last month among more than 5,000 adults, found that while most will start shopping early, with 53% planning to begin before Thanksgiving, they will play chicken with stores too: 73% say they plan to hold out until after Thanksgiving to do most of their shopping.

And overall, Gen Y shoppers are the most enthusiastic about Black Friday this year, with 42% of those in the 18-to-24 group shopping that day, versus just 24% of those 25 and older.

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