NRF: Wants could top needs this holiday

Retail Editor 5, November 16, 2011

Washington - Although holiday shoppers' budgets are expected to be a little tighter this season, the number of consumers planning to purchase discretionary products is on the rise.

According to the National Retail Federation's 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by consumer research firm BigResearch, early Black Friday sales and special holiday offers have piqued many Americans' interest - over half of U.S. consumers (51.4%) have started their holiday shopping, up from 48.0% at this point last year.

The survey also found, the number of shoppers planning to purchase more discretionary items is up in multiple categories compared to last year:

  • Home décor or home-related furnishings: 18.3% compared to 16.5% in 2010;
  • Jewelry: 21.2% vs. 20.3%;
  • Sporting goods or leisure items: 17.8% vs. 15.5%;
  • Personal care or beauty items: 24.0% vs. 22.4%.

Many consumers will buy gift cards this year (57.3%), marking the highest percentage in the survey's 10-year history and correlating with an earlier NRF's survey that found gift cards were also the most requested gift item.

Shoppers are still keen on using money they already have or have saved up to purchase holiday gifts. The survey found 44.0% will rely on debit cards as their primary form of payment, also the higher rate in the survey's 10-year history. In addition, 24.1% will use cash and 3.1% will use a check. Only three in 10 consumers (28.8%) plan to charge their gifts.

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