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Consumer Spending Freeze Is Thawing: Deloitte Survey Says

11/08/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK — Consumers plan to spend more this
holiday season, but will do so more carefully, a new
survey from Deloitte shows.

According to the financial services firm’s 25th Annual
Holiday Survey, which assesses spending intentions
and trends, the economy is still weighing
heavily on consumers, even if their circumstances
are stabilizing or improving.

Among the findings, consumers plan to spend a
total of $466 on gifts, the first increase since 2004,
although the average number of gifts fell for the third
consecutive year, to 16.8.

Specifically, six out of 10 (62 percent) of survey
respondents plan to spend more or the same on the
holidays, a 11 percentage point rise from last year’s
survey and the highest level since 2006.

However, consumers will maintain a careful approach
to spending, with nearly three-quarters (73
percent) planning to change the way they shop this
holiday season in an effort to save money. Among the
changes, almost half (46 percent) of those surveyed
intend to purchase more gifts with cash than they
have in the past, and 36 percent say they have permanently
cut back the amount of money they spend.

In addition, nearly three-quarters (72 percent)
of respondents will use the Internet to guide their
holiday purchasing decisions. More than one out of
10 (12 percent) will turn to social networks for
information such as gift ideas and coupons,
discounts and sale information this holiday
season, while that number jumps to 25 percent
among Generation Y respondents ages
18 to 29.

What’s more, nearly one out of five respondents
(17 percent) plans to use their smartphones
in the holiday shopping process, with
more than half (56 percent) of smartphone
shoppers using their devices to compare prices,
up from 45 percent in 2009.

The survey also showed that gift cards remain
the present of choice for both giving and
receiving.

Still, consumers’ economic outlook is still a
mixed bag. Two-thirds (66 percent) indicate
their household financial situation is the same
or better than last year at this time, a 10 percentage
point rise from 2009, although fewer
consumers (39 percent) expect the economy
to improve next year, down from 54 percent in
2009.

For more information about Deloitte’s Annual
Holiday Survey, including additional statistics,
historical data and useful links, visit www.deloitte.com/us/2010holidaysurvey.