Consumers To Spend Less On Graduation Gifts

graduationFor anyone marketing to new grads, this should have been a banner year, what with 4 million-plus Millennials celebrating their liberation in the coming weeks. But it looks like the recession is changing the way people view graduation gift-giving: According to a new study from the National Retail Federation and BIGResearch, average spending on graduation gifts is likely to fall to $88.01, down significantly from $99.79 last year.

Since most people have more than one grad on their list (the average is 1.96 kids per shopper), that works out to just $45.33 per recipient. Total spending on graduation gifts is expected to come in around $3.9 billion.

Cash is definitely king, and gift cards are losing their appeal: 58.9% of Americans with a graduate in their lives say they will give cash, up from 56.8% last year. And only 29.4% will give gift cards, down from 32.2% last year. Other gift categories are far less popular. About 9.9% say they will buy apparel, for example, and 9% may buy electronics.



Spending is highest in the Northeast ($103.71) and lowest in the South ($85.39). Men spend somewhat more than women, as do those in the 45-to-54 age bracket.

But for the most part, the idea is that kids will use that cash for what they want -- whether they are stocking up for college or thinking about their first apartment, the trade group says in its release. "Young adults will have tremendous buying power in the next several months."

Still, experts say, even in a down economy, this particular segment of Gen Y has considerable economic impact. While the Millennial "echo boom" peaked in 1990 -- which means those kids are likely finishing up their freshmen year at college -- the birth rate was still quite high in 1991 (with 4.16 million births) and 1992 (4.11 million births).


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