FINANCE

Consumers confidence at five-month high as retailers head into holiday season

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Confidence among U.S. consumers increased more than forecast in November to the highest level in five months. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan final index of consumer sentiment rose to 71.6 during the month, from 67.7 in October. Economists had projected a reading of 69.5.

The report came as retailers prepared for the Black Friday shopping onslaught, the official start of the holiday shopping season.

Consumer purchases, which account for about 70% of the economy, rose for a fifth month in October. The survey’s measure of current conditions, which reflects Americans’ perceptions of their financial situation, increased to 82.1 from 76.6 in October.

Consumer expectations for six months from now, which more closely projects the direction of consumer spending, rose to 64.8 from 61.9, today’s confidence report showed.

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FINANCE

Report: Online holiday spending will hit $32.4 billion

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — Online spending should increase by 11% this holiday shopping season, according to date collected by comScore. Already, consumers have spent $9 billion online in the first 21 days of November, a 13% increase versus the corresponding days last year.

ComScore is forecasting that online spending from the November to December period will reach $32.4 billion, representing an 11% gain versus a year ago.

In 2009, consumers spent $29 billion on holiday e-commerce purchases. Last year’s e-commerce holiday spending rose by 4% from 2008.

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FINANCE

Survey: Holiday spending still up for grabs

BY CSA STAFF

New York City — A majority (88%) of consumers have gifts and presents still to purchase, and 79% are undecided about exactly what gifts to buy this year, according to the Holiday Shopping Index, an annual survey by StrategyOne, a Daniel J. Edelman strategic research and measurement consultancy firm.

“With Americans just turning their attention to the holiday season, it’s a critical time for retailers and marketers to reach undecided consumers," said Bradley Honan, senior VP StrategyOne. "This is especially true for consumers who are looking for sales or other incentives to get them into stores."

The survey found that value remains an important consideration for consumers, with 86% reporting they would be happy to see more discounts and bargains in stores during their holiday shopping.

In other findings:

*Looking at planned holiday shopping budgets, 39% of Americans said they expect to spend between $100 and $400 this year on gifts; 23% plan to spend $400 to $700; 10% expect to spend $700 to $1,000; and 7% plan to spend $1,000 or more.

* Forty percent said that they hadn’t done more holiday shopping yet because they were waiting for better deals or lower prices, while 27% reported that uncertainty over what to buy had delayed their gift purchases.

* Seventy-six percent of consumers also reported they had spent less than 50% of their expected holiday budget — and 41% said they had only spent 10% or less of their expected total.

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