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Shoppers Cite Higher Costs this Holiday Season

NEW YORK — More than half — 59% — of shoppers will spend the same or more this holiday season as last year, despite a negative outlook for the economy, according to Deloitte's 26th annual survey of holiday spending plans.

Shoppers planning to spend less this year cited higher costs impacting their household budgets, including 63% who cited higher food prices and 60% who cited higher gas prices.

"Lackluster employment growth, debt crises and stock market fluctuations have battered consumer confidence, while inflation left many with lighter wallets this fall," said Alison Paul, vice chairman and U.S. retail and distribution leader, Deloitte LLP. "Consumers will be conservative this holiday season, but remain resilient and maintain a more positive interest in holiday shopping than we witnessed during the recession."

Among other findings in the survey, which polled more than 5,000 consumers in late September:

  • Holiday shoppers plan to buy an average of 14.7 holiday gifts this year, down from 16.8 last year and continuing a four-year decline in the number of gifts they plan to purchase.
  • Households earning $100,000 or more annually expect to spend 2% less this year on gifts — an average of $812 — while those earning less will pare spending by 26%, to $291.
  • Consumers planning to purchase gift cards (45%) fell 11 percentage points to unseat this category's seven-year reign at No.1 and elevate clothing (48%) to the top spot.
  • Nearly seven out of 10 (68%) of consumers plan to change the way they shop to save money, and more than half in this group (51%) will look online to find better prices, a 10 percentage-point jump from last year.