Call it nesting, or pure practicality, but American consumers are more likely to be spending money on holiday gifts that can be used at home rather than luxury items.
According to research by the International Council of Shopping Centers and Goldman Sachs, clothing, toys and games continue to lead the pack as the most popular gift items. But after that, gifts that could be used within the home -- such as DVDs, housewares and consumer electronics (particularly electronic book readers) -- showed the most category growth over 2008.
"The real story is the shift towards nesting gift items -- those that are either for, or for use within the home," said ICSC chief economist Michael P. Niemira, in a statement. "It keeps with the trend we have seen over the course of the recession, that people are spending more time at home -- eating in, renting movies, etc. -- and purchasing gifts that make this practice more enjoyable seems to be garnering increased interest."
The ICSC's research is just another in a long line of consumer surveys showing that practical gifts are in for 2009. A recent survey from the National Retail Federation and BIGResearch found that more than a third (36%) of all consumers say they will be shopping for more practical gifts this year.
Even the toys are moving more toward the practical. According to Harris Interactive, of the 54% of Americans who will buy toys as gifts this year (up from 47% last year), books are the most popular items (45%), board games, dolls and crafts were also popular items, each garnering interest of about a third of consumers.
While video games remain popular (36% said they will be buying such games for the holidays), the more expensive consoles the games run on -- Wii, Xbox and PlayStation -- will not move as quickly, with only 12% saying they will purchase a console this year.