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Media Resources


Release Date: 12/14/2011

Consumer Reports Poll Reveals the Top Ten Things People Do With Lousy Gifts

49 Million Admit to Being Past Recipients of Sub-par Presents; Holiday Spending Up 4 Percent From Last Year

YONKERS, NY — One in five adults admitted to having been the recipient of at least one lousy holiday gift last year, according to a new Consumer Reports poll. Some of the ways in which they dealt with those less-than-stellar presents might give pause to prospective bad-gift givers this holiday season. Thirty-nine percent hid it away somewhere, 15 percent re-gifted the item, 11 percent threw it out, and another 11 percent returned it to the store. Daringly, two percent gave the gift right back to the giver.

The full results of the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll can be found at

The Consumer Reports poll also revealed who Americans think deserve the title of worst gift-giver. One in ten adults indentified their in-laws, 9 percent said friends, while 5 percent said grandma and grandpa gave the worst presents.

“Our survey shows that at least 44 percent of Americans still believe that it’s the thought that counts and simply make the best of it when they receive a bad gift,”  said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. “And, of course, gift receipts are always a good idea.”

Holiday Spending

Americans expect to spend an average of $707 on gifts this year, up 4 percent from last year. Shoppers say they’ll use cash (33 percent) and debit cards (36 percent) most often to pay for gifts; twenty-four percent say they’ll rely most on credit cards. On average, consumers expect to charge 6 percent more this holiday season than last.

Overall, consumers feel this season’s holiday shopping deals are about the same as they were last year, with 17 percent saying the deals are better and 16 percent saying they are worse. Poll respondents cited online merchants (36 percent) and mass merchandise stores (36 percent) such as Walmart and Target as the best source of holiday bargains so far this season. More adults feel big box or warehouse stores like Costco or Sam’s Club have the best deals this year (19 percent) than last year (12 percent).

Getting into the Holiday Spirit

As the holidays near, half of Americans are either enjoying or really enjoying the season. Only one in six are wishing it was over already, a 3 percentage point decrease from this time last year.  As for worrying, more than a third (34 percent) of respondents said they won’t fret or stress out over the holidays to the extent they did last year, compared to 14 percent who will. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed said they’ll increase their contributions to the needy over what they gave in 2010, while only 13 percent plan to give less.

What Americans do with Lousy Gifts

  • Forty-four percent made the best of it

  • Thirty-nine percent stored it somewhere out of view

  • Eighteen percent donated it

  • Fifteen  percent re-gifted it

  • Eleven percent returned it to the retailer

  • Eleven percent threw it out

  • Six percent tried to sell it

  • Two percent posted a picture of it online

  • Two percent gave it back to the gift-giver

  • Five percent did neither of these things

Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll Methodology

The Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a telephone survey of a nationally representative probability sample of telephone households. 1,017 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+ between December 2-4, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% points at a 95% confidence level. To allow for year-over-year trending, data was standardized for consistency.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.   Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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