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In U.S., Cautious Christmas Shoppers Eye Clothing, Toys

In U.S., Cautious Christmas Shoppers Eye Clothing, Toys

by John Fleming

Story Highlights

  • A majority say they will spend roughly the same as last year
  • Clothing, gift cards, toys, books lead the list
  • Americans say they will spend about a third (32%) online

PRINCETON, N.J. -- As Americans face the final frantic shopping weeks before the holidays, a majority -- 54% -- report that they have spent or plan to spend roughly the same amount on gifts as they did last year. However, 29% report planning to spend less while 18% plan to spend more this holiday season. These figures are slightly less optimistic than what Gallup found in October.

But Americans don't appear to be in a huge hurry to finish their shopping -- almost half say they usually complete their shopping in the last three weeks prior to Christmas.

Of their total holiday gift spending, Americans report planning to spend about a third (32%) of that online with almost half (46%) of their online spending done using a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

Holiday Spending, 2014

Clothing is the big winner, with more than three-fourths of Americans planning to purchase clothing items this holiday season. The usual suspects -- gift cards, toys, books and electronics -- round out the top five. Travel, automotive and jewelry gifts bring up the rear.

Since purchasing online makes up such a sizeable proportion of Americans' reported holiday spending, we also explored some of the reasons consumers prefer shopping online over shopping in-person.

Online Shopping vs. in-Person Shopping

A majority of Americans thought that online shopping was better or much better than in-person shopping for a variety of reasons including convenience, ease of shopping, time-savings, selection and availability of merchandise and ability to comparison shop. The only areas in which online shopping was not deemed superior were shipping costs and the ability to determine whether the merchandise was right or not.

But there are also some perceived risks associated with shopping online. Consumers are still skeptical about online security with 22% "not at all confident" about the security of online purchases made from a computer or laptop and 20% "very confident." As for mobile devices, 31% are "not at all confident" about the security of purchases made using mobile devices, but 14% are "very confident." The constant drip-drip of news stories highlighting data breaches and high profile bugs may be contributing to consumers' skepticism.


A majority of Americans say they plan to spend the same for holiday gifts as last year, while significantly more plan to spend less than last year, rather than more, aligning with Gallup's latest subdued forecast for overall holiday spending.

Online purchases, particularly those made from mobile devices, make up a sizeable proportion of consumers' reported spending. Since this is the first time that Gallup has measured holiday gift spending in this way, we do not know whether these findings are a departure from previous years or not.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Nov. 10-20, 2014, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 1,539 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

Learn more about how the Gallup U.S. Daily works.

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