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Deloitte: Holiday shoppers in a better mood this year

New York - Holiday shoppers may continue to hunt for bargains, but their outlook is much improved over last year, with 50% expecting the U.S. economy to improve in 2013, up from 33% last year.
According to to Deloitte's 27th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends, just 37% of consumers plan to spend less this year - the lowest level since 2006. Consumers expect to spend $386 on an average of 12.8 gifts this year, according to the study.
"Consumers appear to be turning a corner and are more confident about the economy," said Alison Paul, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP, and retail & distribution sector leader. "Recent improvements in housing, employment and the stock market may have buoyed their spirits, but their optimism is somewhat tempered as they keep an eye on energy costs and possible tax increases. The election may initially distract consumers, but we expect them to give retailers a post-election ‘bounce' once their attention turns to the holidays and shopping."
Gift cards and cash are the top gifts on consumers' wish lists. The two most popular shopping destinations are discount stores (where 51% plan to shop) and online (45%). People who shop both online and in stores are expected to spend 71% more than store-only shoppers.
Although they're feeling better about the direction of the economy, consumers say promotions will dictate how they shop . This year, 44% said they will only buy sale items, and 38% expect stores to match prices.
"Consumers have come to expect value at a good price, and the stakes are high for retailers to keep promotions fresh throughout the season," said Paul. "Early holiday messages may take a back seat while the election dominates the airwaves, giving retailers one more reason to play their digital channels' strengths this year. Online and mobile channels can more precisely target customers, and at a lower cost than traditional media. Additionally, retailers can adjust more easily throughout the season-fine tuning promotions and introducing new ones online."

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