NRF Study Predicts a Season of Increased Giving

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'Tis the season to be jolly -- especially if you are a retailer. That, at least, seems to be the conclusion of a new National Retail Federation (NRF) survey. The NRF 2003 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch for NRF, found that the average consumer plans to spend $671.89 this holiday season, up 3.6 percent from 2002 when consumers spent an average of $648.85. And, according to the survey, there will be a significant leap in the gift card sector -- a whopping 48.4 percent of consumers have indicated that they would like to receive gift cards this year, up from 41.3 percent last year.

Overall, NRF is projecting that holiday sales will increase 5.7 percent this year to $217.4 billion, which would be the largest increase since 1999. NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said, "There's still time for retailers to show positive gains in 2003. Retailers can expect a much better holiday season than last year."

On average, consumers plan to spend $518.44 on gifts this year. Moreover, this year, just over half of consumers also plan to take advantage of sales and promotional items to purchase non-gift items for themselves, with the average consumer purchasing additional items planning to spend $146.69.

In addition to gift cards, many of last year's gifts will remain popular this year, with 52.7 percent of consumers indicating that they hope to receive books, CDs, DVDs, videos, or video games, and 51.2 percent wishing for clothing or clothing accessories. Consumers also hope to receive electronics (33.9 percent), jewelry (23.9 percent), and home furnishings (20.8 percent).

The study found that an increasing number of consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier each year, with 42.8 percent of consumers beginning their holiday shopping in October or before, up from 39.1 percent last year. Another 35 percent plan to begin shopping in November with the remaining 22.1 percent planning to wait until December.