Survey says holiday spending will be on the down side of flat


Predictions on how the annual holiday shopping spree will go this year are, as usual, all over the map. If we have seen a trend, we’d say the tea-leaf readers are looking on the up side of flat. But now one of the most trusted and widely used business prognosticating services, Conference Board, is looking at the other side of the break-even line.

CB says that in 2009, the average household spent $390 on gifts during the holiday season. This year, it is predicting about the same, minus six dollars.

However, CB is wise enough to hedge its bet, noting that the number it is using as its leading indicator to the 2010 shopping season could very well be eclipsed if retailers are ready to take actions to beef up spending.
“Consumers are approaching the holiday season in a somewhat cautious mood,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “However, with retailers already enticing consumers with markdowns and bargains, this season could very well match, perhaps even surpass, last year’s.”

25% of households are planning to spend over $500, down 1% from 2009. 39% expect to spend in the $200-$500 range, and 37% will spend less than $200.

The internet will come into play for 41% of all shoppers, according to Conference Board, and surprisingly, in a time when internet share of almost anything sharable still tends to increase, CB says that is down from 42% last year. This despite the fact that 94% said their internet shopping experience was satisfactory last time around.