Holiday Shopping Plans Include Deals, Coupons and Discounts

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, holiday shoppers say they plan to spend out an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from last year’s $718.98. The report is forecasting overall holiday retail sales to grow 2.8% during the months of November and December to $465.6 billion.

Average Holiday Spending




















Source: NRF/BigResearch, October 2011


In addition, a new shopping poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs shows that given the current state of the economy, 45% of U.S adults plan to spend less this coming holiday season than they did last year.

  • Women are more likely than men to say that they are going to be cutting back their holiday shopping budgets (49% vs. 39%), as are adults ages 35 and older compared to younger adults (49% vs. 35%).

Consumer Spend Planning 2011 Holiday Season



% of Respondents

Same as last year


More than last year


Less than last year


Source: Ipsos, October 2011


Many adults are not taking advantage of online coupons that could help stretch their holiday dollars, with less than half saying that they are likely to look for online coupons or coupon codes before making a holiday purchase.

Among those who do shop online, 16% say that they always look for a coupon or coupon code to make their shopping dollar go farther, and an additional 24% do so most of the time. However, 37% of online shoppers are looking for online coupons only once in a while and 23% say or never.

  • Women (20% vs. 11% of men) and parents with children under 18 (21% vs. 13% of those without children under 18) are most likely to say that they always look for coupons when shopping online
  • Adults under 55 are also more likely than those who are older to say this (53% vs. 37%). Parents are also more likely to hunt for these deals than are adults without children under 18 (58% vs. 43%).

In general, consumers utilize a variety of types of coupons, but the most commonly used are those from newspapers or magazines, with 50% of adults saying that they have taken advantage of these savings opportunities in the past 30 days. Nearly as many say that they have used a loyalty card or in-store promotions in the past month, though fewer have used printable coupons, daily deals such as Groupon, or online coupon codes.

Saving Opportunities Used in Previous 30 Days

Savings Through:

% of Responses

Newspaper or magazine coupons


Loyalty cards or in-store promotions


Printable coupons


Daily deals


Online coupon codes




None 15


Source: Ipsos, October 2011

59.9% of respondents said they plan to take advantage of retailers’ sales and discounts to make additional non-gift purchases for themselves and their families during the holiday season, according to the NRF. The average person will spend approximately $130.43 during the holiday season to take advantage of sales and discounts on apparel, electronics, home goods and other items for themselves or a family member, up from $112.20 last year.

According to the NRF survey, the largest portion of a consumer’s holiday budget will go toward gifts for family members, with the average person expected to spend $403.26 on kids, parents and other family members. Friends, co-workers and even the family pet can expect something nice this year as well; holiday celebrants will spend an average of

  • $68.23 on friends,
  • $21.06 on co-workers, and
  • $23.39 on other gifts
  • $46.73 on decorations
  • $26.52 on greeting cards
  • $96.75 on candy and food
  • $18.23 on flowers

People this year plan to shop around with a variety of retailers for holiday gifts and merchandise, says the NRF. Department stores, with unique private-label offerings, will see an increase in traffic over last year (56.9% vs. 54.5% last year), as will clothing or accessory stores (35.2% vs. 33.6% in 2010), drug stores (21.1% vs. 18.9% last year), and grocery stores and supermarkets (48.8% vs. 46.7% last year), and most will head to discount stores (66.1% vs. 65.1%.) Crafts and fabric stores will benefit from those looking to make personal and thoughtful gifts (17.5% vs. 16.1% in 2010).

Ipsos says if the merchandise and deals were the same, seven in ten adults (69%) report that they would prefer to shop in retail stores, while just 26% would opt for shopping online. 4% have no preference and 1% were unsure. However, if they could find better deals online this holiday season, a greater proportion (47%) say that they would prefer to do their shopping online. However, as many (46%) say that they would go into retail stores, meaning that they would forgo the online deals in order to shop in person. One in twenty (5%) have no preference between the two and 2% are unsure.

  • Over half of adults under 55 (54%) would shop online if that’s where they could find better holiday deals compared to just 35% of adults 55 and over.
  • When it comes to frequency of online shopping, 11% report to make an online purchase at least once a week, and another 20% do so on a monthly basis. However, four in ten (38%) say they shop online only a few times a year, and a third (31%) never shop online.

The NRF reports that each year, nearly 40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, and this year is no different with 38.9% of celebrants having already begun or planning to begin holiday shopping before October 31. Another 40.0% will begin shopping in November, 17.0 will hit the stores the first two weeks in December and 4.1% will procrastinate until the final two weeks of December.

NRF found 5.7% said they would comparative shop using their mobile device more often, up from 3.7% in 2010, and nearly one-third (32.1%) will comparative shop online more often, up from 30.9% last year.

Finally, Ipsos notes that another strategy consumers are using to get the most bang for their buck when it comes to their holiday shopping is spending time looking for the best possible prices.

Frequency of Searching For Coupon When Online Shopping


% of Respondents



Most of the time


Once in a while




Source: Ipsos, October 2011


Time Planned to Research Best Prices for Holiday Purchases

Time for Research

% of Respondents

Less than 1 hour


1-3 hours


3-6 hours


More than 6 hours


Source: Ipsos, October 2011

For additional data and charts from Ipsos, please visit here. And to read more of the NRF report, go here.



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