Holiday Shoppers Off to Slow Start, Gift Card Sales Up

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, most consumers (71.4 percent) have less than 10 percent of their holiday shopping completed. Young adults (18-24 years old) are the least prepared with three-fourths of them finished with less than 10 percent of their shopping.

“Good news lies ahead for many retailers whose shoppers have yet to put a dent in their shopping lists,” says Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO. “Now that the weather has started to cool, consumers will start to think about holiday shopping by making lists, researching gift ideas and window shopping around town.”

According to the survey, debit and check cards will rule again this year with 40 percent of shoppers relying on them to make purchases this holiday season, up from 39 percent last year. Additionally, about one-third of holiday shoppers will primarily use credit cards for holiday purchases. As electronic transactions begin to replace traditional methods of payment, only 5.5 percent of shoppers plan on using their checkbooks, and 22 percent will use cash.

The majority of consumers plan to reach for clothing or clothing accessories (57.2 percent) and books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (57 percent) when purchasing gifts. Gift cards continue to rank at the top of lists with 56.6 percent of consumers saying they plan on buying gift cards this year. Other popular items include toys (43 percent) and consumer electronic or computer-related accessories (29.2 percent).

According to NRF’s 2007 Gift Card Survey, also conducted by BIGresearch, gift card sales will total $26.3 billion this holiday season, compared to $24.8 billion in 2006. Additionally, the average consumer will spend more on gift cards then they did last year ($122.59 vs. $116.51 in 2006).

“It is no secret why gift cards are the most popular item on consumers’ shopping lists,” Mullin said. “Many consumers pulled back on spending for themselves this year and are hoping to receive a gift card so they can purchase something they may have had their eye on for months.”

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