Consumer Reports Poll: 30 Percent of Americans Have Yet to Start Shopping for Holiday Gifts

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Thirteen percent are completely done shopping;Twenty-two percent say election soured their holiday mood.

CR January 2017 Issue

Even though retailers have stepped up their efforts in recent years to lure holiday shoppers into spending sooner, there’s a consistent, sizable chunk of Americans who see no need to rush.

With just a little over a week to go until Christmas, nearly a third (30 percent) of Americans haven’t bought a single holiday gift, according to a new Consumer Reports poll. That’s down from 36 percent who hadn’t begun their shopping as of early December last year.    

On the flip side, of those who have begun their shopping, 47 percent are halfway done or less, 31 percent say they’re three-quarters of the way done, and 19 percent have completely finished their holiday shopping.

“Even though retailers have stepped up their efforts in recent years to lure holiday shoppers into spending sooner with holiday deals that seem to start being advertised earlier and earlier, there’s a consistent, sizable chunk of Americans who see no need to rush, ” said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior projects editor and resident shopping expert.

With the election season now over, most Americans (60 percent) said it had no effect on their holiday mood. However, 22 percent said it made their mood more negative vs. 19 percent who said it made their holiday mood more positive. When CR asked the same question before the outcome of the election was known, the numbers were 21 percent negative/4 percent positive.

The poll also revealed that Americans planned to spend a median of $468 on holiday gifts this year. That represents a 17 percent decrease from CR’s previous poll taken in October/November.

Still, most are relatively holiday stress-free. Only 27 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed about their holiday preparations – including 3 percent who are so overwhelmed that they’re certain they won’t be ready for the holidays. More women said they were feeling stressed than men – 32 percent to 21 percent. When asked what was stressing them the most, 36 percent said not having enough money to cover holiday expenses, 15 percent said trying to figure out good fits to give, another 15 percent said not having enough time to buy gifts, and 12 percent cited not having enough energy to get everything done.

Consumer Reports 2016 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

Consumer Reports Poll Methodology:
The Consumer Reports National Research Center designed a survey to explore general sentiment and shopping behaviors for the upcoming 2016 winter holiday season. In December 2016, ORC International administered the phone survey to a nationally representative sample of over 2000 randomly selected adult U.S. residents; 78% 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 for holiday shoppers is +/- 2.5% at the 95% confidence level. Fifty-three percent of the sample was female, and the median age was 44 years old. The October/November CR holiday poll was administered by ORC in October and November, 2016 to a nationally representative sample of over 2000 adults; 84% will be shopping this holiday season.

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 food and product safety, financial reform, health reform, and many other issues. The organization has advanced important policies to prohibit predatory lending practices, combat dangerous toxins in food, and cut hospital-acquired infections. 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. It also works to enact pro-consumer laws and regulations in Washington, D.C., in statehouses, and in the marketplace. An independent nonprofit, Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, payment, or other support from the companies that create the products it evaluates.

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© 2016 Consumer Reports. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®,® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumer Reports will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

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James McQueen
Consumer Reports
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