Tuesday, December 23, 2008

58% of Americans Not Cutting Back on Holiday Spending This Year, New Survey Reveals

/PRNewswire/ -- While most Americans have been directly affected by the sharp decline in the nation's economy, a majority still feel a sense of obligation, both to their family and the country, to maintain holiday gift giving and celebrations, according to a survey of 1,762 adults.

More than 54% of survey respondents know someone who has become unemployed in the past 6 months. However, 58% report they expect to spend the same amount this year on the holidays as they did last year, according to the survey, which was sponsored by Dollar Savvy, a new magazine and website (www.getdollarsavvy.com) dedicated to providing Americans with effective money-saving ideas.

Respondents are aware of the connection between their holiday shopping plans and the economy:

-- Over half (51%) say they have a responsibility to keep shopping to
help the economy.
-- 57% of respondents say regardless of the nation's economic reality,
they have an obligation to provide their families with a wonderful
holiday season.
-- 20% of respondents acknowledged they are dipping into savings to pay
for holiday celebrations.

Survey respondents expressed a sense of optimism about the future, and noted that the economic downturn is helping readjust priorities in a positive way. Among the findings:

-- 61% say the holidays will be more joyful this year.
-- 78% said hard economic times remind them of what is really important.
-- 73% said America will be stronger once we solve our economic problems.
-- 90% percent say the holidays are about family and faith, not gifts and
meals.

When it comes to gift-giving, Americans will continue to give store-bought gifts, but 20% said they plan on giving more homemade gifts this year. In keeping with their perspective on the economy, 53% said they expect the number of gifts they receive this year to be less than last year; 41% said they expect it to be about the same.

Additional holiday spending results:

Amount Spent
-- 9% plan on spending more
-- 46% plan to spend the same amount on gifts as last year
-- 43% plan on spending less
-- The average amount expect to spend is $553

Gifts to Children
-- 56% plan on giving the same number of gifts to children as they have
in the past.
-- 22% plan to give less
-- 13% plan to give more
-- 8% don't know

Gifts to Spouse
-- 52% plan on giving the same number of gifts to their spouse
-- 27% plan on giving less
-- 7% plan on giving more
-- 14% don't know

Gifts to Friends
-- 51% plan on giving the same number of gifts to friends
-- 37% plan on giving less
-- 3% plan on giving more
-- 8% don't know

"Despite economic hard times, Americans continue to have a deep, heartfelt connection with the holiday season," said Neil Wertheimer, Editor in Chief of Dollar Savvy and getdollarsavvy.com. "While they believe that the gifts will be fewer this year, and the meals a little less extravagant, the joys of the holidays will be every bit as great, if not greater, than in years past."

Other survey results included:

-- 61% of respondents said they will be sending store-bought holiday
greeting cards this year; 31% are planning to send e-mail cards; and
12% are sending homemade cards. 13% of respondents say they will be
including a family-update letter.
-- 42% said they will spend less this year on decorating their home for
the holidays; only 6% said they will spend more than last year.
-- 25% said they will spend less on holiday food this year; 15% said they
will spend more.
-- 27% said they will give less money to charity this year; 11% said they
will give more.
-- 48% say that ham will be the main course at their holiday dinner,
followed by turkey (43%), and beef (16%). Only 6% said they will be
serving seafood, and 1% said they will be serving lamb.
-- 38% said they will be dining at restaurants less during the holiday
season.
-- 11% said they would be dining out more.
-- 41% said they will be traveling less during the holiday season.
-- 14% said they would be traveling more.

About the survey

The survey was conducted on December 9 and 10 by Socratic Technologies, a full-service marketing research agency that regularly conducts global Web-based surveys. The respondents were a cross section of women and men who subscribe to one of five broad-interest consumer magazines operated by the Home & Garden Group of the Reader's Digest Association Inc. Survey respondents had a median age of 52 and median household income of $75,400. The survey had a 2.3 percent margin of error.

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