Deloitte Holiday Survey: Gift spending ticks up

New York City Consumers are not very hopeful about the economy, but their holiday shopping plans remain intact, according to Deloitte’s 25th Annual Holiday Survey.

Six out of 10 (62%) of survey respondents plan to spend more or the same on the holidays, up 11% from Deloitte's 2009 holiday survey and the highest level since 2006. The anticipated rise in holiday spending comes despite that fact that nearly only four out of 10 (39% ) survey respondents expect the economy to improve next year, down from more than half (54% ) who anticipated an improvement at this time last year.

In other survey findings:

  • Two-thirds (66% ) of consumers indicate their household financial situation is the same or better than last year at this time, a 10% point rise from 2009.

  • Consumers plan to spend a total of $466 on gifts, the first increase since 2004. However, the average number of gifts fell for the third consecutive year, to 16.8.

  • Consumers' total anticipated holiday spend this year rose slightly to $1,160 from $1,145 in 2009 on gift and non-gift categories that include socializing away from home, entertaining, non-gift clothing, and home/holiday furnishings.

  • Gift cards land at the top of the list of gift items consumers plan to purchase for the seventh year in a row. However, the total number of cards that consumers plan to buy slipped to 5, from 5.4 in 2009.

The survey revealed the growing influence of mobile and online channels. Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents indicate that online research will influence their holiday purchases. Among the nearly one out of five shoppers (17% ) who plan to use their smartphones in the holiday shopping process, 56% of them will do so to compare prices. And more than one out of 10 (12%) of consumers will turn to social networks for information such as gift ideas and coupons, discounts and sale information this holiday season.

Consumers, however, maintain a careful approach to spending, as nearly three-quarters (73%) plan to change the way they shop this holiday season in an effort to save money. Almost half (46% of those surveyed intend to purchase more gifts with cash than they have in the past, and 36% say they have permanently cut back the amount of money they spend.

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