40 percent of adults have put off holiday shopping
`Tis the season for procrastinating, or so Consumer Reports’ latest Holiday Shopping Poll suggests.
As of Dec. 6, 40 percent of adults said that they have yet to hit the stores for gifts, the poll reports. Respondents also told Consumer Reports that, on average, they will be spending $699 on holiday gifts.
Over the past three holiday shopping seasons, the average amount shoppers plan to spend on gifts has declined steadily. In 2008, shoppers anticipated spending $740, on average, down from $763 in 2007. While planned spending has decreased by $64, the number of gifts shoppers plan to buy has not changed. On average, shoppers plan to buy 15 gifts, which is about the same number as in previous years.
The next week may be frantic for many shoppers, as only 12 percent have finished their holiday shopping and nearly one-third (30 percent) do not anticipate finishing until Dec. 23 or later. Just over one in 10 (13 percent) shoppers will not finish until Dec. 24.
And finding that perfect gift may be problematic for procrastinators, as a third (34 percent) of consumers who have started gift shopping have found an item they wanted was out of stock.
“The findings clearly show that Americans are taking a pragmatic approach to the holidays. And that's a good thing,” said Tod Marks, senior editor and shopping expert for Consumer Reports. “Consumers are spending a bit less, focusing on more practical gifts, and vowing to take on less debt and pay it off sooner.”
Consumer Reports’ survey also found that 68 percent of credit card users plan to pay off their holiday debt by the end of January. These intentions seem ambitious, but in recent years, adults have become more diligent in paying off their holiday debt.
Methods of Payment
About three-quarters (76 percent) of shoppers use cash to pay for their holiday purchases, leading both debit cards (51 percent) and credit cards (48 percent) by a wide margin. Men (41 percent) are more likely than women (29 percent) to use cash most often.
Since 2007, the amount that consumers charge on credit cards to pay for holiday purchases has steadily decreased. Shoppers who plan to use their credit cards told Consumer Reports that they intend to put less on them this year, charging $636 on average versus $682 in 2008 and $723 in 2007.
Give, receive & re-gift
On average, consumers plan to buy about 15 gifts. Women plan to buy more gifts than men – 16 compared to 13. And those getting gifts this season may actually find them useful, as 34 percent of adults told Consumer Reports that they are more likely to buy practical gifts this year. This is good news for the 30 percent of adults who said they wanted to receive more practical gifts, although practical gifts are not guaranteed to be good, especially if they come from an extended family member, who 15 percent reported give the worst gifts. Parents (6 percent) and in-laws (7 percent) are less likely to give the worst gift.
Seen that gift before? Look closely, as 15 percent of gift shoppers reported that they will practice re-gifting this year.
Wishing the holidays away
Bah humbug! As of Dec. 6, about one in five (21 percent) adults said they wished the holidays were over.
More information on Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll can be found online at www.ConsumerReports.org/money.