Jewelry Remains a Popular Holiday Gift

About 72 percent of consumers have completed less than 10 percent of their shopping, compared with 2.2 percent of shoppers who say they have completely finished, according to a National Retail Federation survey.

NRF’s 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey found that consumers will shop in similar gift categories as last year. Just over 19 percent of respondents said they will be buying jewelry as a gift, making it one of the more popular gift items this year.

Clothing and accessories (57.4%) and books, CDs, DVDs and video games (55.6%) topped consumers’ shopping lists, according to the survey. Other popular gifts will include new game systems, Blu-ray DVD players and other electronic items (30%), toys (41.6%), gift cards/gift certificates (53.5%), and personal care or beauty items (20.8).

“Americans may be hesitant to purchase expensive gifts this holiday season, but personal and practical gifts will resonate most with shoppers this year,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and chief executive officer. “Though many companies have already been featuring substantial sales and discounts, retailers may still have a few tricks up their sleeves to attract and entice holiday shoppers.”

Though many consumers are struggling, most will not rely on credit for the bulk of this year’s holiday purchases. The survey found that 41.5 percent of shoppers will primarily use their debit/check card to pay for holiday items this year, compared to 40.1 percent last year. The number of Americans who will pay with cash is also up slightly this year, with 22.8 percent of shoppers using dollar bills to make holiday purchases, compared to 22.1 percent a year ago. People using credit cards as a primary payment method dipped slightly (31.5% this year vs. 32.3% last year), while personal checks are becoming nearly nonexistent (4.3%).

“If consumers have been waiting for the best deals possible, their wait is over,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at BIGresearch, which conducted the study. “Even though consumers will be watchful of their spending this year, shoppers may find the bargains too good to pass up and will treat themselves to something they’ve had their eye on for months.”