Christmas Shopping Trends

Americans will spend, on average, $616 this holiday shopping season, according to a recent Gallup poll. That figure is “the lowest in Gallup’s 10-year history of tracking this question in its current format.” It also gives more information about impact of the current economic downturn on America’s retailers, according to Gallup researchers.

Americans’ average Christmas spending was estimated at $866 in 2016. The previous low point of the last 10 years came in November 2006. That year was one of the worst holiday retail seasons in more than a decade, with about an estimated $690 in average holiday spending.

46% of Americans Say They Will Spend Less on Christmas Gifts in 2017

When asked by Gallup researchers whether the amount they plan on spending on Christmas gifts this year is more than, less than, or the same as last Christmas, 46% of Americans say “less.” This is the highest negative response in almost two decades of asking this question according to the Gallup organization.

This is only the second time in Gallup history that fewer than 50 percent of Americans said that they would spend less on Christmas gifts than in previous years. Over the years, Americans have typically said they were going to spend the same amount on gifts as they did the previous year.

Americans Prefer Discount Stores for Shopping This Holiday Season

Gallup also uncovered information about the way Americans say they plan to shop this holiday season, focusing on five separate venues: department stores, discount stores, specialty stores, the Internet, and mail-order catalogs. Overall. The people surveyed said they will probably shop less in each of areas.

Department Stores

Plans for shopping in department stores showed the biggest drop. While 53% said in 2016 that they were “very likely” to shop in these stores, just 39% said that theyb panned to do so this year.

Discount Stores

Pundits have predicted that discount stores may be the only winners during the Christmas shopping season this year since shoppers may not be in the mood to spend.

Gallup found these predictions to be more or less correct. In fact, the new Gallup data show only a slight drop in planned discount store shopping, with 42% of those surveyed in 2017 versus 45% in 2016 saying that they will shop in discount stores.

“Discount stores do in fact appear to be better situated than other retailers to weather this Christmas shopping storm, according to Gallup pollsters.

Online Shopping on the Internet

The survey also found a slight drop in plans for Internet shopping. This was a “surprise” for pollsters, given the fact that the popularity of Internet shopping has gone up each year since Gallup began asking about it in 1998.

Since the Internet is a means to shop versus a specific kind of shopping there is no obvious economic reason why use of the Internet for Christmas shopping should drop, other than people’s tighter budgets overall, according to Gallup pollsters.

Specialty Store Shopping

The drop in anticipated shopping in specialty stores, including stores that sell only toys, or clothes, or jewelry is second only to the drop in department store shopping.

Mail-Order Catalog Shopping

Mail-order catalogs are even less popular this year. However, they have never been a preferred way to shop, said pollsters.

The Bottom Line for Christmas and Holiday Shopping in 2017

The decrease in anticipated Christmas shopping in 2017 is no surprise, given the grim reality of so much other negative consumer economic data Gallup has been measuring, said pollsters.

Still, this new information about of Gallup’s annual Christmas shopping trends reinforces the vulnerability of America’s retailers this season “as consumers pull way back on spending in the face of continuing economic turmoil.” Said Gallup researchers.

Survey Methods Used

These results are based on telephone interviews with 1,009 national adults, aged 18 and older. Interviews were conducted from November 13-16, 2017. The maximum margin of sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with 95 percent confidence, according to Gallup

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