Each year before the holidays, we ask shoppers how much they intend to spend on gifts. In early December, when the Consumer Reports National Research Center reached out to shoppers, they replied that they planned to spend $699 on presents. But earlier this month they told us that the final tally was actually $811 and one out of five shoppers spent $1,000 or more. (Two percent spent $5,000 or more.)
About half of shoppers pulled out their plastic to pay for some or all of their gifts. Those that did spent an average of $896.
Fortunately, 66 percent of those whose generosity caused them to overspend say they are able to pay off their debt by the end of this month. Still, one in five of those asked will not clear their debt until March or later. (In an earlier poll, we found that six percent of respondents carried that debt for an entire year.)
Intriguingly, almost 20 percent of those asked did not buy any gifts for the holidays—people 65 and older and those with household incomes of $50,000 or less dominated this group. Now that's a hangover cure.
—Mary H.J. FarrellIn case you missed the earlier polls: