Average Holiday Spending to Top $1,100

Approximately 37 percent of consumers said they were likely to scale back on their gifts and other holiday-related expenditures, according to the International Council of Shopping CentersGoldman Sachs Holiday Survey. That is the highest percentage reporting since ICSC began this survey question in 2004 and was 10 percentage points greater than the 2007 finding.

A total of 70 percent of households that reported reducing (less or substantially less) their holiday expenditures cited that the high cost of living as the key reason, and 63 percent of these consumers said they plan to purchase less expensive gifts.

Spending during this holiday season is expected to average $1,154 per household with $533 directly on holiday gifts, other than gift cards, according to the survey. Gift card spending is expected to average $173 in 2008, with other holiday-related expenses averaging $132 for entertaining (including holiday dinners); $159 for holiday travel; $64 for decorations, gift wrap and cards; and miscellaneous holiday spending of $93 per household.  

“We expect weak sales during this upcoming holiday season as a result of the U.S. recession,” said Michael P. Niemira, chief economist and director of research for ICSC. “One of the biggest expected changes is that consumers will be more restrained on personal spending—despite the bargains—and more focused on gift buying.”

The survey is based on a nationally representative sample of 1,006 adults comprising 501 men and 505 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. It was conducted via telephone by the Opinion Research Corporation from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2.