DETROIT (WWJ) – Armed with savvy shopping skills and a renewed focus on value, consumers this holiday season will shop at a variety of locations and channels as they scope out ways to get the best bang for their buck.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, holiday shoppers say they plan to shell out an average of $704.18 on holiday gifts and seasonal merchandise, down slightly from last year’s $718.98.

Additionally, nearly six in 10 holiday shoppers (59.9 percent) say they plan to take advantage of retailers’ sales and discounts to make additional non-gift purchases for themselves and their families during the holiday season.

The average person will spend approximately $130.43 during the holiday season to take advantage of sales and discounts on apparel, electronics, home goods and other items for themselves or a family member, up from $112.20 last year.

According to the survey, the largest portion of a consumer’s holiday budget will go toward gifts for family members, with the average person expected to shell out $403.26 on kids, parents and other family members.

Friends, co-workers and even the family pet can expect something nice this year as well; holiday celebrants will spend an average of $68.23 on friends, $21.06 on co-workers, and $23.39 on other gifts. Consumers will also spend on decorations ($46.73), greeting cards ($26.52), candy and food ($96.75), and flowers ($18.23).

With wish lists in hand and a set budget in mind, people this year plan to shop around with a variety of retailers for holiday gifts and merchandise.

Department stores, with unique private-label offerings, will see an increase in traffic over last year (56.9 percent vs. 54.5 percent last year), as will clothing or accessory stores, drug stores, and grocery stores and supermarkets. Most shoppers will head to discount stores, and crafts and fabric stores will also benefit from those looking to make personal and thoughtful gifts.

For recipients, gifts small and large are expected to make big impressions this year. For the fifth year in a row – and at the highest level in the survey’s history – 57.7 percent of shoppers say they’d like to receive a gift card this holiday season. Other items on consumers’ wish lists include clothing or clothing accessories (50 percent), consumer electronics or computer-related accessories (35.4 percent), jewelry (22.8 percent), and personal care items (19.3 percent).

When asked which one factor will be most important when shopping this holiday season, sales or price discounts largely win out (41.6 percent), but customer service and quality of merchandise are continuing to become more vital components in consumers’ decision making processes, highlighting the growing importance of value when it comes to gift and everyday shopping.

As the internet quickly becomes a destination for time-strapped shoppers, more people will seek out retailers’ holiday deals on the Internet this year; nearly half (46.7 perent) will buy online, up from 43.9 percent last year.

Additionally, the average holiday shopper plans to do 36.0 percent of their shopping online – whether they’re comparing prices, researching products, or actually making a purchase.

Online shoppers plan to spend more as well – the average holiday online shopper will spend about 22 percent more than the average adult.Adults aged 25-34, many of whom have small children and crave convenience, will complete 43.7 percent of their holiday shopping online, the most of any age group.

According to the survey, 62.2 percent of Americans say the U.S. economy will affect their holiday spending plans. To compensate, consumers are expected to comparison shop to save a few dollars.

The survey found 5.7 percent said they would comparative shop using their mobile device more often, up from 3.7 percent in 2010, and nearly one-third will comparative shop online more often, up from 30.9 percent last year.

The NRF 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey polled 8,585 consumers October 4-11, 2011.


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