U.S. Consumers Expect to Spend 11% Less on Christmas Gifts

Households across the U.S. plan to fork out about $418, on average, for gifts during Christmas season 2008; this figure, according to The Conference Board, is 11.3 percent lower than in 2007.

The Conference Board’s survey of Christmas gift spending found that consumers are in a cost-conscious mood. Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s consumer research center, said, “This is shaping up to be one of the most challenging holiday seasons in years, and it’s going to take more than the usual discounts and incentives from retailers to get consumers to spend more freely.”

By region, the survey found that those in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin intend to spend the most, with an average of $550. The lowest range, with a household average of $330, came from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Twenty-seven percent of all households plan to spend $500 or more on Christmas gifts, down from 33 percent in this category during 2007. Thirty-seven percent plan to spend between $200 and $500, and 35 percent are planning to spend less than $200.

The Conference Board found that 39 percent of all consumers plan to buy Christmas gifts online. Jewelry as a gift category was named by 10.1 percent of consumers who intend to purchase online. The most popular gifts, cited by 37.9 percent of survey respondents, were books, followed by toys/games, apparel, movies/DVDs and music.

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