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Release Date: 12/06/2012

Consumer Reports Holiday Poll: 66 Million Americans Have Yet To Begin Their Holiday Shopping

Eight in Ten are Concerned about Overspending; Twenty-Eight Percent of those who Shop Around are Finding Better Deals Online

YONKERS, NY – Black Friday weekend and Cyber Monday may have seen record-high sales this year, but 36 percent of Americans who say they plan to give gifts have yet do any holiday shopping at all, according to the latest Consumer Reports Holiday Poll. Of those who have begun shopping, 42 percent are either three-quarters finished or finished completely (9 percent), while 58 percent said they were no more than halfway done.

The full results of the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll are available at ConsumerReports.org.

When asked where they’d done their holiday shopping this year more Americans said they had patronized mass merchandisers like Wal-Mart and Target (55 percent) than shopped online for gifts (39 percent).  Thirty-two percent have shopped at department stores like Macy's, Bullocks, Sears, and JCPenney, while 28 percent have shopped at retail chain stores like Toys "R" Us, Best Buy, or Gap.

The Consumer Reports Holiday Poll also revealed that while more Americans have shopped for holiday gifts at mass merchandisers, bargains can be found online:  28 percent who have shopped at more than one type of retailer said they’re finding the best deals online, on par with the 26 percent who found their best deals at mass merchandisers. Only 14 percent of shoppers said department stores have the best deals.

“Our poll revealed that Americans have plenty of shopping left to do and are generally enjoying the holiday season so far,” said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. “However, they are also watching their dollars very closely and just as in years past, they’re looking for bargains.”

Americans plan to spend a median of $483 on gifts this holiday season, according to the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll. But when asked if they were concerned about limiting their expenses, 81 percent of Americans said they were at least somewhat concerned, including 30 percent who are very concerned. The following is of list of things they said they plan to do differently this holiday season to save money:

  • Give less expensive gifts (55 percent)

  • Be more active in seeking out sales and discount coupons (46 percent)

  • Give gifts to fewer people (38 percent)

  • Agree on more limited gift-giving arrangements within family or group of friends (e.g., Secret Santa, gift exchange) (29 percent)

  • Limit online shopping to websites that offer free shipping (23 percent)

  • Give homemade or other creative gifts instead of store-bought gifts (21 percent)

  • Limit or cut down on holiday travel (19 percent)

  • Send holiday cards to fewer people (16 percent)

When it comes to deciding what gifts to give, 65 percent of Americans said they simply buy what the person they’re shopping for requested. Four-in-ten rely on advice from friends or family, while one in five get ideas from ads or commercials, and the same proportion consult customer or user reviews or ratings. Only 5 percent of holiday shoppers get their gift ideas from salespeople.

Newspapers are a leading source of information on the best holiday shopping deals, used by 43 percent of Americans, the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll found. Promotional flyers or circulars (38 percent), TV or radio ads (36 percent), email promotions (29 percent), and deal or coupon websites, such as Groupon (15 percent), were other popular sources. Only 13 percent said they used or plan to use the social media channels Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter for information on shopping deals this holiday season.

Consumer Reports Poll Methodology
The Consumer Reports National Research Center designed a survey to explore general sentiment and shopping behaviors for the upcoming 2012 winter holiday season. In November 2012, GfK Custom Research administered the survey online to a nationally representative sample of over 1,100 randomly selected adult U.S. residents. The data were statistically weighted so that respondents in the survey were demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error is +/- 3.8% points at the 95% confidence level. Fifty-four percent of the sample was female, and the median age was 47 years old.

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, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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