Accustomed to pinching pennies thanks to years of economic downturn, holiday shoppers this year will look for ways to cut corners, comparative shop online and even plan to travel less, if not at all, the National Retail Federation said in its annual shopping forecast for the Christmas season.
On average, the NRF expects holiday consumers to spend $749.51 on holiday gifts, decor, greeting cards and more in 2012. That's more than the $740.57 shoppers actually spent in 2011.
And before you think Patch is reporting on the holiday season, think again.
According to the survey, nearly half of Americans say they've begun holiday shopping before Halloween—12.3 percent of those surveyed before September; 7 percent during September; and 22.1 percent by the end of October.
"Perhaps boosted by interest in layaway options or an urge to score the season’s 'must have' item before it is too late," the survey said.
Locally, Ballwin and Ellisville shoppers agree.
Cristine McNear Metts added, "I'm already done...thanks to the annual trip to the Branson outlet malls."
And from Beth Florsek: "Early in the season we go to the craft fairs, flea markets/resell and antique malls first. There is always some neat decorations, unique trinkets, memorabilia. And it makes shopping very fun and affordable."
The biggest portion of shoppers’ budget this year will go towards gifts for family members with the average person planning to spend $421.82, the report says.
And, perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of holiday shoppers will shop online for gifts for loved ones. In fact, the average person will complete nearly 40 percent of their shopping on websites.
What do you think? Is it too early to be shopping for the holidays? When do you begin shopping (or have you already)? And what about online shopping? Is it killing the holiday spirit or is it just another efficiency that makes our lives that much better?