Jewelry Expected to Be a Top 5 Gift Among Affluent Americans This Year

The Survey of Affluence and Wealth, published by Time Inc. and YouGov, indicates that this holiday season will be a strong one for retailers, especially jewelers.  

The annual survey looked at 1,058 American families with household incomes over $100,000, constituting the top 10 percent of American earners. 

“This is the first really robust holiday season since the dark days of the recession,” said Jim Taylor, vice chairman of YouGov America. “However, it is important to note that most Americans—especially affluent Americans—still believe we are in a recession. They remain concerned about the state of the American economy and community. While most affluent families concede significant improvement in their household finances, concerns remain that the overall economy is unstable and that problems of war, disease, and civil unrest persist globally.” 

Top insights from the survey:  

Holiday spending is expected to go up.

The top 10 percent of net-worth families are expected to spend $1,920 per family this holiday season, a 6 percent increase from the $1,818 they spent 2013. This group’s purchases will account for $21.6 billion, or nearly 30 percent of U.S. holiday-gift purchases.

(For contrast: The bottom 90 percent will spend $55.9 billion, which comes out to $594 per family, up 12 percent from last year’s $432.)

There is a wider gap than ever between online and in-store shopping.

The survey also covered how respondents intend to shop. Among affluent shoppers, 45 percent expect to shop primarily online, 35 percent expect to shop primarily in brick-and-mortar stores, and 25 percent said they expect an even mix.

“Shopping continues to shift in favor of digital as the gap between online and in-store shopping is now the largest it’s been in the past four years,” said Caryn Klein, vice president of Time Inc. Research & Insights.

Jewelry is in the Top 5 gifts.

The Top 5 gifts that affluent respondents expect to give in 2014, according to the survey:

• Gift cards (64 percent)

• Fashion (58 percent)

• Books (38 percent)

• Food, wine, and spirits (37 percent)

• Jewelry and watches (30 percent, up 3 percent from last year)

“It seems that 2014 will be the year of significant recovery for the jewelry industry, which suffered markedly during the recession,” according to the survey.

Affluent are looking to splurge.

Twenty-one percent of affluent respondents said they are “looking to splurge” on a gift for their spouse or partner; that’s up 60 percent over last year’s 15 percent of would-be splurgers.

Self-gifting gets bigger.

The likelihood of buying a gift for oneself during holiday shopping sprees is another notable trend; 45 percent of shoppers say they expect to purchase something for themselves, a figure that is up 9 percent over two years ago.

The favorite self-gift? Jewelry or watches, with 33 percent expecting to treat themselves to jewels or timepieces.