Consumers Find An Additional $75 To Spend on Christmas This Year

According to a Gallup poll conducted in November, in which respondents were asked to predict the total amount they will spend on Christmas gifts this year, they will spend $714 -- well exceeding the $638 they forecast in November a year ago for the 2009 holiday season, but still trailing the forecasts recorded over most of the last decade.

Christmas Spending Forecasts (November of Each Year)


Personal Spending Expectation























Source: Gallup, November 2010

According to Gallup, if the figure holds at this level through December, that would point to a roughly 2% year-over-year increase in holiday sales. Further, if consumers' spending estimate increases between November and December, as it typically does, actual retail sales could improve by closer to 4%, similar to the long-term average.

Although 52% of Americans say they will spend the same on gifts this year as in 2009, 34%, of Americans, say they will spend less, compared with 12% saying they will spend more. That 22-percentage-point gap is nearly double the average 13-point difference between these figures over the past 20 years, providing a note of caution to Americans' dollar spending forecast.

The current gap contrasts with a 39-point gap found in November 2008, amid the turmoil of the global economic collapse. However, in periods of relative economic prosperity, such as from 1995 through 2000, the figures were about even.

More or Less than Amount Spent Last Christmas (% of Respondents)


About the Same















Source: Gallup, November 2010

The report concludes by noting that consumers seem on track to increase their Christmas spending this year compared with 2009. The precise percentage increase is unclear, and will likely be reflected in what Americans say about their gift-buying intentions in December. Historically, consumers' estimates of their Christmas spending increase between November and December, and the amount of that increase will indicate whether retailers can expect modest growth or something closer to the average 4% increases enjoyed in the years prior to the latest economic downturn.

And, with additional money to spend, new research from Unicast shows that consumers are looking to online sources for savings.  53% of people surveyed said that they planned to surf the web to research deals, with 42% of respondents planning to get ahead of the gift-giving-game by researching Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales online. 

Key findings from Unicast include the fact that:

  •  53% of shoppers plan to use the internet to compare deals between stores or retailers' websites this holiday season
  • 37% of consumers will shop on Free Shipping Day, this December 17th, in order to avoid shipping fees
  • Most of this year's online holiday shopping will occur during the first two weeks in December (December 1-15)
  • Most popular online purchases include entertainment items like music, movies, and video games
  • 54% of consumers said that they are most likely to interact with ads that include sales offers, discounts, or special promotion codes

14% of consumers will get a head start on their holiday shopping, checking most of the items off their lists by Thanksgiving Day. Another 7% expect to be last-minute shoppers, cramming most of their purchases into the last week before Christmas.

  • 21% of those aged 18-24 planned to buy most of their presents on Black Friday while the plurality of 25-34 year olds will make theirpurchases on Cyber Monday.
  • Consumers with an annual household income of $50K-$74K were especially likely to partake in Cyber Monday (14% vs. 8%, <$25K; 11%, $25K-$49K; 6%, $75K-$99K; 10%, $100K+).
  • Those with children in the household were significantly more inclined than those without kids to buy gifts on Black Friday (15% vs. 11% and 20% vs. 10%, respectively)
  • Married adults were significantly more apt than their unwed counterparts to buy gifts on Black Friday (15% vs. 11%, respectively) or within the first two weeks of December (25% vs. 19%, respectively)
  • Twenty-nine percent of Northeasterners reported a plan to get their online shopping done between December 1st and 15th compared to 22% overall. Westerners were especially likely to buy their gifts before Thanksgiving Day (13%), while Southerners were more apt than the average respondent to partake in Black Friday (16%)

Additionally, the study finds the types of offerings which would most encourage the consumer to purchase from a particular online retailer:

  •  63% say free shipping
  • 21% Coupons for a percentage off one item selected by the shopper
  •  20% Gift card with purchase for future use
  • 17% Sale items determined by the retailer
  • 15% A large variety or products
  • 13% Free returns
  • 9% Brand name items
  • 6% Special discounts for retail club

Gallup poll results are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov 4-7, 2010, with a random sample of 1,025 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the continental U.S., providing an expected 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

For more information from Gallup, please visit here, or for more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit here.

For more findings from Unicast, including additional charts and graphs, please go here for the full report.


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