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A Quarter of Americans Have Yet To Start Holiday Gift Shopping

Gift Cards, Food, Booze Are Last-minute Go-to Gifts; One in Seven Adults Lie to Those They Did Not Have Time to Shop For

Consumer ReportsYonkers, NY – With the holiday fast approaching, a new Consumer Reports Holiday Poll revealed that the number last-minute shoppers has risen this year compared with last holiday season. As of December 19th, twenty-five percent of adults have not begun their holiday shopping, up from 17 percent who hadn’t at this point in 2010.

Of those who haven’t started shopping yet, over half (54 percent) cited lack of enough money as a reason, 41 percent still believe they have plenty of time, while roughly a third (29 percent) are simply in procrastination mode.

“We’ve known from early on that consumers were very concerned with their finances this holiday season, and its clearly caused many Americans to delay even starting their shopping, ” said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. “However, last-minute shoppers should be mindful of spending more on gifts than they ordinarily would, which many respondents of this poll said they were likely to do.”

Heading into the final holiday shopping weekend, six out of ten people are still scrambling to finish, according to the Consumer Reports poll. When asked what gifts they’re most likely to give with time running out, 45 percent of adults cited gift cards, 21 percent said good-old cash, 9 percent go with food, while 7 percent prefer wine or liquor. One in four who aren’t finished shopping will be hitting the stores on Christmas Eve.

Last-minute shopping might be a budget buster. In order to finish shopping in time, 44 percent of adults say they will buy a gift even if it’s more than they wanted to spend, and a quarter of adults will get something that may not be a good deal just to be done with shopping.

Spending on Holiday Gifts

In an earlier Consumer Reports Poll, Americans anticipated spending an average of $707.00 on gifts this year. Those who have finished shopping as of December 19th spent an average of $673.00. Thirty-five percent of adults expect to spend more on gifts than they get in return, while only 19 percent expect to spend less than they receive.

What Americans Give or Say to Those They Didn’t Shop For

Although a majority of respondents (57 percent) said they always finish they’re holiday gift shopping on-time, four in ten adults do not. That inevitably leaves them with some explaining to do to the people on their lists they just didn’t have time to shop for.

Common things they’ve said or done include:

  • Promised a future gift or gave an “I owe you” (41 percent)
  • Did nothing (31 percent)
  • Gave a homemade gift certificate, such as night of babysitting (17 percent)
  • Lied and said something like “it’s in the mail” or “I forgot it at home” (14 percent)
  • Gave the person a re-gifted item (12 percent)
  • Avoided the person (12 percent)

The full results of the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll can be found at www.ConsumerReports.org.

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. 1,011 interviews were completed among adults aged 18+ between December 15-18, 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.

About Consumer Reports

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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