Press Release: Americans Say They Expect to be Merrier This Holiday Season

Consumers’ Research Annual Survey Also Finds Spending Time with Loved Ones Continues to Trump Material Gifts

Washington, D.C.—December 6, 2018-There seems to be a bit more merriment in the air this year. A new Consumers’ Research survey finds that compared to previous years, more Americans think this holiday season will be the merriest it could possibly be. Additionally, consumers continue to prioritize spending time with loved ones over having money and other material gifts.

According to Consumers’ Research, the nation’s oldest consumer organization, 27% of respondents think this season will be the merriest it could possibly be, marking a significant eight percentage point increase over last year (19%) and a seven percent increase (20%) over 2016. In 2015, 25% of respondents said it would be the merriest possible. Among men and women, perceived merriment seems to have remained relatively consistent as 28% of women think this season will be the merriest it could be, compared to 25% for men. Last year, more women expected the greatest level of merriment, 21% to 16%.

When it comes to what really matters most to people during the holidays, an overwhelming majority once again say spending time with loved ones. The survey found that spending time with loved ones (69%) remains the most important priority for people, up a significant 14 percentage points from last year. And 68% of people identified spending “quality time with loved ones” as their most desirable gift, also up significantly, by 13 percentage points from 2017.

“While it is hard to pinpoint exactly why there is more merriment than in past years, one possible explanation could be that more people are enjoying the benefits of a strong economy, which includes having higher wages and more buying power,” said Kyle Burgess, Executive Director, Consumers’ Research. “It is also possible that many Americans, unhappy with the current political climate, could be feeling less anxious after the midterm elections,” Burgess added.

How important are each of the following activities to you during the holidays?

Using a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest rating, sixty-nine percent of respondents gave a rating of 10 to “spending time with loved ones” as the most important holiday activity, followed by: great meals (32%), sticking to a budget (30%), enhancing one’s spiritual life (29%), gift giving (18%), charitable giving (17%) and gift receiving (7%).

How desirable do you find the following holiday gifts?

Using the same scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest rating, respondents identified “quality time with loved ones” as the most desirable gift, with 68% putting it at the top of their wish list. Money was a distant second place (29%), followed by getting a handmade gift (25%), receiving a gift card (22%), a monetary investment such as an IRA (20%), a charitable donation made in one’s name (16%) and a store-bought gift (14%).

Other notable survey findings include:

  • Those who said they plan to do their shopping either on Christmas Eve (20%) or the day after Christmas (32%) increased significantly over the past year, both by over five percentage points.
  • Respondents who said they plan to do half of their shopping in a store and half online jumped three percentage points from last year, to 33%.
  • Although 29% said they plan to do most or all of their shopping in a store, 27% said they will do most or all of their shopping online. Both of these results were identical to last year’s findings.

“Consumers want to take advantage of the variety of shopping experiences available to them,” Burgess said. “While online shopping will continue to remain very popular, the in-store shopping experience gives people the ability to socialize, enjoy the festive atmosphere, and purchase last-minute gifts. This is all consistent with the general mood and continued desire to be with people this holiday season.”

To view past Consumers’ Research holiday survey results, visit:

About Consumers’ Research:

Consumers’ Research, founded in 1929, is the nation’s oldest consumer organization that seeks to increase the knowledge and understanding of issues, policies, products, and services of concern to consumers. For more information visit: http://consumersresearch.

About the Survey:

The survey was conducted from November 15-18, 2018 using the AmeriSpeak® Panel. AmeriSpeak® is NORC’s probability-based panel designed to be representative of the U.S. household population, which sets it apart from traditional “opt-in” or “convenience” panels. Interviews of approximately 1,000 U.S. adults (18+) was conducted both online and by telephone. The margin of error on weighted data is +/- 3 percentage points for the full sample.

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