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Survey: Consumers still have lots of holiday shopping to do

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Washington, D.C. Though the Christmas countdown is in its final stages, it seems shoppers still have plenty of shopping left to do. According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average person had completed 46.7% of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, less than the 47.1% completed by this time last year. This is the lowest percentage since 2004, when the average person had completed 46.3% of their shopping by the same period.

“Retailers know the final lap counts the most and are planning to emphasize promotions and discounts to bring in last-minute shoppers,” said Tracy Mullin, President and CEO, NRF.

According to the survey, nearly 42 million people (19.1%) had not even started their shopping as of late last week, while 8.6% of shoppers have completely finished. Adults over 65 years old have completed the most shopping (50.0%), while adults 45-54 year olds have completed the least (44.1%).

According to the survey, only 11.9% of shoppers say they will buy their last gift on Dec. 24. Instead, the majority (35.0%) plan to finish their list by Dec. 19.

With many people shopping for bargains, discount stores (42.0%) and department stores (42.0%) can expect to see the most traffic in the coming days. Grocery stores can also expect to see an increase in last-minute shopping this year (11.5% versus 8.4% in 2008) as more people consider food or candy as a gift item or head to supermarkets to purchase ingredients for homemade meals.

Electronic stores (22.0%), clothing or accessories stores (20.6%), outlet stores (13.6%), and drug stores (7.8%) will also see their share of holiday shoppers before the big day, though a big chunk of procrastinators will also shop online (38.0%).

With an array of gift options, the majority of people (44.7%) say they have purchased apparel so far this year. Additionally, shoppers have been buying books, CDs, DVDs, videos and video games (39.7%); toys (34.6%); gift cards (27.5%); consumer electronics (21.8%); and food (19.3%).

When asked which payment method they have used the most, nearly four out of 10 (39.3%) have used their debit or check cards most often. As expected, fewer people have used credit cards as their preferred payment method this year (30.9% vs. 33.8% in 2008); more than one-quarter (26.0%) have used cash; and a mere 3.8% have relied on checks.