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Forecast: Holiday Spending Up, But Consumers Still Looking for Deals
Nov 11, 2011
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Americans on average will spend $831 on gifts this holiday season, up $121 from last year, but will continue their frugal shopping strategies, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

The expanding holiday shopping season is providing buyers increased access to seasonal merchandise and discounts, but shoppers are still holding out for the best deals. "Consumers are savvier than ever, and they have memorized the holiday retail narrative,” said Pam Codispoti, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Card Services, American Express. “We’re continuing to see consumers employ a range of tactics to stay within budget and, at the same time, maximize their gift-giving potential.”

Money saving strategies:
• 48% plan to stick to a holiday gift budget
• 58% will shop for clearance or sale merchandise (67% in 2010)
• 51% will clip coupons or take advantage of promotions (58% in 2010)
• 29% will shop at factory outlets (26% in 2010)
• 28% will cash in rewards points to buy gifts (not surveyed in 2010)
• 19% will leverage social media offers such as Facebook or Groupon (not surveyed in 2010)

One in four consumers will use a cell phone or other mobile device for holiday shopping:
• browsing for gift ideas: 13%
• making purchases: 6%
• compare prices: 12%
• use barcode scanning apps to find deals: 9%
• access social media site offers like Groupon, Foursquare, or Facebook: 7%

Young professionals will be especially heavy users of mobile technology: 63% plan to use mobile phones to shop this season.

Pre-holiday shopping should be higher in 2011.
• 42% plan to hit the stores on Black Friday (31% in 2010)
• 35% will surf the web on Cyber Monday for deals (20% in 2010)

Internet shopping plans:
• 31% will research products and compare prices online before buying in-store for hard-to-find items
• 50% will make purchases online

Consumers plan to spend the most on:
• children: $270
• significant others: $373

The most gifted items, the report said:
• gift cards: 58% (53% in 2010)
• clothing and accessories: 48% (50% in 2010)
• toys and games: 43% (43% in 2010)
• music: 29% (29% in 2010)
• books or magazines: 28% in 2010) (31%
• cash: 27% (26% in 2010)
• electronics: 25% (22% in 2010)
• perfume and cologne: 24% (22% in 2010)
• jewelry or watches: 23% (22% in 2010)
• entertainment: 21% (20% in 2010)

An increased number of holiday shoppers will host holiday parties: 26% in 2011, up from 20% in 2010. More will also have a special dinner out: 29% in 2011, up from 24% in 2010.

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