Survey: Affluent Shoppers Will Drive 2011 Holiday Sales

Online, club, dollar, toy, and consumer electronics retailers—as well as categories such as gift cards, technology, vacations, and toys—will all perform well this season, according to Nielsen’s fourth annual Holiday Shopping Sales Survey.

The survey shows that across all income levels, only 5 percent of U.S. households plan to spend more this year, with affluent households—those earning upwards of $100,000—leading the way. Among households earning $100,000 or more, consumers ranked online merchants, club stores, and dollar stores as the top three channels where they plan to spend more this shopping season. Among households making $50,000 or less, consumers plan to increase their spending at dollar stores, online merchants, and supercenters.

“Nielsen expects the vast majority of consumers to be increasingly practical and focused on value this season,” said James Russo, Nielsen’s vice president of global consumer insights, in a statement. “More affluent consumers will drive spending, particularly in entertainment, vacations, toys, and technology.”

Recent findings from Nielsen’s Consumer Confidence Index revealed consumer sentiment is near recession lows, with one out of every three respondents reporting that they’ll have no spare cash going into the holiday season. Roughly 52 percent of Nielsen Holiday Survey respondents reported plans to spend $500 or less. At the other end of the spectrum, affluent households reported plans for modest spending increases in stores as well as for out-of-home and in-home entertaining.

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