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Discover survey: Consumers plan to slightly increase budgets for holidays

Shoppers expect to spend approximately $748 this season compared to plans of spending $730 at this time last year, according to the Discover 2011 Annual Holiday Shopping Survey, which examines holiday spending intentions and trends for the upcoming holiday season.

Twenty-three percent of respondents indicated they intend to spend more in 2011, up from 13 percent that planned to spend more in 2010. Fifty percent of consumers intend to spend the same or more as they did last year; up from 43 percent.

One of the most important insights the survey revealed for consumer shopping intentions is Americans’ propensity to look to sites such as Groupon or Living Social for gift purchases. When asked if they would buy a gift through a group-buying site, more than half, 55 percent, of consumers gave a jolly nod to the idea, up from 22 percent who said the same last year. In 2010, just 6 percent of those surveyed said they had purchased a gift through a group-buying site, which more than tripled in 2011 to 20 percent.

“Consumers have had a few years to adapt to the change in economy and seem to be better prepared, and better positioned, for the holiday season,” said Sarah Alter, vice president of portfolio marketing for Discover. “This economy has created a very savvy shopper, one who has a deeper understanding when it comes to taking advantage of sales, exclusive deals and making sure they’re getting rewarded for their purchases.”

Key Spending Figures

•While men plan to spend about $825, down 3 percent from last year, women’s spending intentions improved by 18 percent to $722 this year.

•Sixty-six percent of respondents plan to spend within their budget, and more than one quarter of all consumers indicated they would spend between $500 and $1,000 on holiday shopping in 2011.

•Fifty-five percent of shoppers plan to use cash, down 7 percent from 2010, and 26 percent plan to buy with credit, up 3 percentage points.

Popular Holiday Budget Strategies

•Just more than half of survey respondents (52 percent) say they have a set holiday budget this year, and substantial sales and compelling incentive offers are top-of-mind this holiday season.

•Fifty-five percent of consumers say they will seek special shopping incentives and bargains such as free shipping, up 10 percentage points from 2010.

•Forty-four percent of consumers say they will limit purchases to items that have deep sales, up 9 percentage points from those who said the same last year.

•More than half, 55 percent, of consumers say they will take advantage of Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday sales.

•A growing number of shoppers plan to use their credit card rewards toward holiday shopping; in 2011, 5 percent of shoppers report planning to use rewards, more than doubling the 2 percent of shoppers who planned to do the same last year.

Consumers Flock to Big Box, Discount Retailers and Online Shopping for Holiday Gifts

The majority of holiday shoppers plan to do their holiday shopping both in-store and online this holiday season as 81 percent report they will take advantage of multi-channel offerings.

•Fifty-seven percent of shoppers plan to purchase in-store gift items from discount retailers, while 20 percent say they will shop these stores online.

•Sixty percent of online shoppers plan to shop on, the most popular online retailer.

Apparel, Toys and DVDs Still Top the Gift-Giving List

Discover’s Holiday Shopping Survey also highlights popular gifts and spending categories, with apparel, toys and DVDs making the top of the gift-giving list this holiday season. Although shopping for spouses and parents is reportedly the hardest for consumers, the survey confirms that men would like to receive electronics and computer-related accessories, while women are more interested in receiving apparel.

About the survey: The Discover Holiday Shopping Survey was conducted by telephone with 500 male and 500 female adults. The research was conducted from Oct. 21 through Oct. 25, 2011, by Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates.

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