Updated July 3, 2013

Survey: Holiday Forecast 2012

Consumers Plan to Spend Less on 2012 Holiday Shopping
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This year’s holiday shopping season will be a less-than-jolly affair for U.S. retailers according to new survey results by CreditDonkey.com. When asked if they planned to spend more or less on holiday shopping than last year, 50.7% of respondents said less, while 31.5% said more, and 17.8 percent are unsure.

How much will you spend holiday shopping this year compared to last year?
How much will you spend holiday shopping this year compared to last year? © CreditDonkey

Among those who plan to spend less this year, “shaky” job security and a desire to save money were the most common reasons cited for tighter budgets in CreditDonkey.com’s 2012 Holiday Shopping Survey.

On the bright side – at least for Internet retailers – 54.5% of respondents expect to spend more money this year on Cyber Monday. However, only 41% of respondents said they will take advantage of post-Thanksgiving sales on “Black Friday.” Of those shoppers, 59.5% plan to spend less that day than they did last year.

Do you plan to shop on Cyber Monday?
Do you plan to shop on Cyber Monday? © CreditDonkey

Do you plan to spend more or less on Cyber Monday versus last year?
Do you plan to spend more or less on Cyber Monday versus last year? © CreditDonkey

Do you plan to shop on Black Friday?
Do you plan to shop on Black Friday? © CreditDonkey

Do you plan to spend more or less on Black Friday versus last year?
Do you plan to spend more or less on Black Friday versus last year? © CreditDonkey

Given the steady but slow improvement in the U.S. economy compared to last year, we were surprised by the number of people planning to spend less money this holiday season. Even if all of the ‘undecided’ consumers increase their budgets and some of the ‘spend less’ respondents change their minds, a significant percentage of consumers will trim their holiday budgets in 2012.

In other survey results:

61% of those polled said they will use only cash to finance their holiday spending; 11.5% said they will use credit, and 25.4 percent planned to use both cash and credit.

How do you plan to finance your holiday spending?
How do you plan to finance your holiday spending? © CreditDonkey

Gift cards may be this year’s most popular gift item: 67.6% of respondents plan to put these on their holiday shopping lists.

Other gifts at the top of shopping lists include:

  • Electronics (66.9% of respondents plan to buy these items)
  • Clothing (63.2%)
  • Books (56.8%)
  • Toys (56.1%)
  • Household goods (49.2%)
  • Homemade gifts (48.1%)
  • Movies (43.7%)
  • Music (36.8%)
  • Jewelry (33.3%).

What do you want to give this holiday season?
What do you want to give this holiday season? © CreditDonkey

What do you want to receive this holiday season?
What do you want to receive this holiday season? © CreditDonkey

55.6% of respondents plan to spend under $300 on holiday gifts, and 28.9% plan to spend $400-$599. Just 5.4 % of respondents plan to spend more than $999.

How much do you plan to spend on the holidays this year?
How much do you plan to spend on the holidays this year? © CreditDonkey

Whatever their current budgets, we think many consumers are underestimating what they’ll actually spend. People may want to spend less than $300, but a substantial number will break those budgets once they get into the ‘spirit of the season’ or find ‘the perfect gift.’ By December 26th, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn that most consumers spent far more than $300.

From October 9 to October 23, 2012, CreditDonkey.com polled 1,125 Americans, age 18 and over, about their holiday shopping plans using multiple choice questions and short-answer questionnaires.

PS: Don't forget to give back in the season of giving with charitable giving.

Editor's Note: Chart "How much do you plan to spend on the holidays this year" is a distribution of what respondents plan to spend. We illustrated the distribution and not a mean because, in our opinion, it provides a better illustration of what is happening, whereas mean can be skewed by outliers. For example, if one respondent is planning to buy a $20,000 car as a gift for christmas, that will skew the 40 other respondents who plan to spend $100 (in this example, the reported mean would be $585).

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Follow @CreditDonkey or write to Charles Tran at charles@creditdonkey.com
Charles Tran is the founder of CreditDonkey, a credit card comparison and financial education website. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped young adults make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

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