Consumer Reports Poll: Americans Largely in High Spirits Ahead of Holiday Season

Share Article

Holiday gift spending set to rise by 21 percent

Overall excitement about the holiday season has remained remarkably consistent over the past few years, and shoppers appear to be slowly but surely loosening their purse strings.

Nine in 10 Americans say they’re looking forward to this year’s holiday season, including 25 percent who are really looking forward to it, according to a new Consumer Reports poll.

That enthusiasm is reflected in how much Americans plan to spend. Seventy-two percent plan to spend at least as much as they did last year on gifts, which includes 14 percent who plan to spend more, according to the Consumer Reports poll. While 27 percent plan to spend less, that number is down from the 30 percent who said the same last year. Holiday shoppers expect to spend a median of $529 – an increase of 21 percent over last holiday season.

“Overall excitement about the holiday season has remained remarkably consistent over the past few years, and shoppers appear to be slowly but surely loosening their purse strings,” said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior projects editor and resident shopping expert.

Among the shoppers who plan to open their wallets a little more this year, their improving finances are a key factor. Fifty-three percent said they simply have more cash this year vs. last; 47 percent said they’re feeling more generous; 45 percent have more people on their gifts list; 39 percent reported they got a raise or better-paying job; 27 percent cited lower gas prices for their holiday season largesse; and 17 percent have people asking them for more expensive gifts than last year.

The Consumer Reports poll also revealed that more than half (57 percent) of holiday shoppers plan to create a budget this year. However, 53 percent said the same thing last year but only 43 percent actually followed through on it. Of those who actually did make a budget, 32 percent overspent – down from 38 percent who did so in 2013. When asked their main reason for making a budget, 36 percent said it was to keep track of their spending; 32 percent said it was due to tight finances; 14 percent said it was habitual; and 12 percent create a budget to help them save for the future.

This season, more consumers will use cash and debit cards to pay for their purchases and less major credit cards than they did last year. Seventy-two percent plan to use cash, up from 62 percent last year. Fifty-four percent plan to use their debit cards, up from 45 percent last year. Credit card usage will decline to 40 percent, down from 45 percent last year. Six percent of Americans have yet to retire all of their credit card debt from last holiday season.

Security fears may help to explain why credit cards have fallen into disfavor. Twenty-five percent of respondents said they will not use a credit card because they’re concerned about potential data breaches. That’s up significantly from last year, when only 11 percent of those surveyed were worried about their data being stolen.

Consumer Reports 2015 Holiday Polls are a series of nationally representative surveys designed to measure consumer sentiment and shopping behavior during the holiday season. Additional results from the Consumer Reports poll can be found at ConsumerReports.org/Holidays.

Consumer Reports Poll Methodology:
The Consumer Reports National Research Center designed a survey to explore general sentiment and shopping behaviors for the upcoming 2015 winter holiday season. In November 2015, ORC International administered the survey online to a nationally representative sample of over 1000 randomly selected adult U.S. residents; 77% will be shopping this holiday season. The data were statistically weighted so that respondents in the survey were demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error is +/- 3.09% at the 95% confidence level. Fifty-two percent of the sample was female, and the median age was 45 years old.

About Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit, consumer organization working to improve the lives of consumers by driving marketplace change. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has achieved substantial gains for consumers on health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to cut hospital-acquired infections, prohibit predatory lending practices and combat dangerous toxins in food. Consumer Reports tests and rates thousands of products and services in its 50-plus labs, state-of-the-art auto test center and consumer research center. Consumers Union, a division of Consumer Reports, works for pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. With more than eight million subscribers to its flagship magazine, website and other publications, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment or other support from the companies whose products it evaluates.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

James McQueen
Consumer Reports
+1 914-378-2839
Email >