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Consumers expecting holiday season to be a bit jollier

By Cara Henis

Consumers are arming themselves with shopping lists and budgets this holiday season in an attempt to keep credit card debt down, according to research by Information Resources Inc., a market solutions consulting company.  Consumers planning to spend less on holiday gifts this year

Though survey results indicate consumers are less concerned than last year about the recession impacting holiday shopping, researchers still expect people to approach the holiday season with conservatism.

More than 94 percent of survey respondents said they will spend no more than $500 on their holiday meal. Consumers are also paying attention to how much they spend on gifts by setting lower gift-giving budgets. The percentage of consumers with lower budgets -- setting the limit at $499 -- increased by 11 percent this year, while the percentage of people with higher budgets -- willing to spend over $799 -- fell by 13 percent.

Shopping lists are another must during the holiday season. Only 18 percent plan on purchasing holiday gifts without a shopping list and even less (11 percent) plan buying their holiday meal without a shopping list.

This holiday season will be all about deal hunting. About 80 percent of customers say the desire to budget is encouraging them to switch from name brand products to private label or generic brands. Sixty percent also cited the similarity between name brand and generic brand products as a reason for the switch. More than 90 percent of consumers say their grocery store purchases will be partially influenced by sales and discounts.

Credit card videos

For more on this topic, check out this video:
Credit card video: Holiday shopping tips

Though cutting costs is a priority, a declining number of consumers say concerns about gas prices, cost of utilities and the recession will affect their holiday 2009 purchases.

The number of people saying the recession will impact their holiday spending dropped by about 5 percent from last year. Worries about gas and utilities effecting shopping ability has also declined from last year by 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.  Concern about food prices decreased dramatically, too, with a more than 20 percent drop.

 "... Last year's dismal holiday retail results are being left behind as consumers are slightly more optimistic about the economy and are much more savvy about how they attack their holiday gift and meal list," said Thom Blischok, president of IRI Consulting and Innovation, in a press release.

These markers of improvement may spur a renewed interest in spending.

 "American consumers plan to enter this year's holiday season more hopeful, resulting in consumer confidence to selectively open their wallets wider than the 2008 holiday season," according to the IRI website's description of the 2009 holiday consumer.

See related: Gift cards: Everything you need to know, How to replace a lost or stolen gift card, Giving the gift of flight with airline gift cards 

Published: September 24, 2009


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