While the economy continues to improve, consumers remain cautious in their spending this holiday season, according to a new Consumer Reports poll. Shoppers are spending less this year, averaging $679, down $20 from last year. The drop marks the fourth consecutive annual decline in holiday spending.
Most shoppers expect to pay for their holiday purchases with cash, rather than taking on more credit-card debt. As of October, 13.6 million Americans were still paying off credit-card charges from last year’s holiday purchases.
Despite their cautious spending plans, consumers remain generally optimistic, and half of all adults are enthusiastic about the holiday season.
“The Recession may be officially over, but many consumers remain very concerned about paying their bills and the security of their jobs,” said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. “Despite these ongoing economic challenges, people are largely optimistic this time of year. They haven’t stopped spending, they’re just trying to get the most for their dollars.”
As part of that search for value, more consumers are shopping at outlets, with 41 percent saying they will patronize such discounters, up from 29 percent last year. And liquidators like TJ Maxx and Marhsalls are also seeing a bump in their popularity.
Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll Methodology: The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,013 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+. Interviewing took place over December 3-6, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% points at a 95% confidence level.