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Most Consumers Have Started Their Holiday Shopping

With the middle of the holiday season approaching and shoppers eager to take advantage of early promotions from retailers, more than half of consumers have already started making dents in their holiday gift lists, according to the annual mid-season survey released today by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

“Consumers are looking for great prices and promotions earlier than ever, and retailers answered that demand by offering Black Friday deals as soon as the day after Halloween,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

“This time of year is about finding the right gifts while staying on budget. For those looking for anything from toys to apparel at retailers large and small, in-store or online, retailers are ready with great merchandise at affordable prices.”

The survey found that 55.7 percent of shoppers have already started buying holiday gifts, the second-highest level in the history of the survey, down slightly from the record 56.6 percent at the same time last year. Only 3 percent said they were finished shopping.

Clothing and accessories remain the most popular gifts this year, given by 61 percent of shoppers; 56 percent will give gift cards. Nearly half of shoppers, 44 percent, will give books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games; 42 percent will give toys, 31 percent food or candy and 30 percent will give electronics.

“With more promotions to come, shoppers will have ample opportunities this holiday season to seek out the perfect presents – either for themselves or for others,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “The popularity of gift cards makes them an easy choice, but many consumers will still search online and in store, browse ad circulars and even login to Facebook to find inspiration for unique and memorable gifts for their loved ones.”

Holiday shoppers are planning to purchase an average of three gift cards with an approximate value of $46 per card, the second most-popular gift after clothing. Spending on gift cards is expected to reach $27.5 billion, up from last year’s planned $26 billion. The most popular types of gift cards include those from restaurants (35 percent of buyers), department stores (33 percent), Visa/MasterCard/American Express (22 percent), coffee shops (21 percent) and entertainment (17 percent).

Predicting the “hot” toys each season can be a challenge for harried parents and others buying for children, but many already have their shopping lists prepared. Barbie (23 percent) reigns for the second consecutive year among those buying for girls, followed by traditional dolls (12 percent), Shopkins (5 percent), Hatchimals (4 percent), Legos (3 percent) and American Girl (also 3 percent). For boys, Legos again tops the list of must-haves (15 percent), followed by cars and trucks (8 percent), video games and Hot Wheels (tied at 6 percent) and Star Wars-related items (5 percent).

Debit cards are the most popular form of payment this year, used by 39.7 percent of shoppers, up from 39 percent last year and edging out credit cards, which will be used by 38.7 percent (up from 38 percent last year). One in five (19.5 percent) plan to pay with cash, while only 2 percent will use checks. Additionally, one-fifth (19.9 percent) plan to use PayPal when purchasing holiday gifts this year.

The survey, which asked 7,206 consumers about holiday shopping plans, was conducted November 1-8 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.

About Prosper Insights & Analytics
Prosper Insights & Analytics delivers executives timely, consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive resource of information, Prosper represents the voice of the consumer and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and world issues. www.ProsperDiscovery.com

About NRF 
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

SourceNRF Press Release

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.