Survey: Americans May Be More Willing to Open Their Wallets This Holiday Season Despite Being Less Merry Than in Years Past

November 21, 2017

Survey: Americans May Be More Willing to Open Their Wallets
This Holiday Season Despite Being Less Merry Than in Years Past

Consumers’ Research’s Fourth Annual Holiday Survey Also Finds Consumers Plan to Shop Equally in Stores as Online

Washington, D.C.— While holiday cheer remains dampened this year compared to years past, Consumers’ Research’s fourth annual holiday survey suggests that consumers aren’t letting that keep them from opening up their wallets. Furthermore, despite the continued prevalence of online shopping, consumers are equally as likely to do most or all of their shopping in stores as online.

According to the results, 19% of respondents think this holiday season will be the merriest it could possibly be, which is virtually unchanged from 20% last year but down 6 percentage points from 25% in 2015. There is a notable gender difference in perceived merriment, with more women than men anticipating it will be as merry as possible, 21% to 16%. Yet despite this generally unmerry mood, only 19% said that sticking to a budget would be their highest priority during the holidays, which is considerably down from 24% in 2016 and 28% in 2015.

“We’re seeing an interesting relationship between people’s moods and their willingness to spend money this holiday season,” said Kyle Burgess, Executive Director of Consumers’ Research. “It seems that while Americans say they’re less happy, their intentions also suggest they are less budget conscious.”

Americans are divided on where and how people plan to shop. Interestingly, 29% of respondents said that they plan to do most or all of their holiday shopping in a store, and an almost equal number (27%) said they plan to do most or all of their shopping online, while another 30% say they will do half in a store and half online. As for when people plan to do their shopping, respondents said Cyber Monday will be the most popular day (41%), followed by Black Friday (37%), the day after Christmas (26%), Small Business Saturday (23%) and Christmas Eve (13%). Millennials (25-34) are the least likely age group to support Small Business Saturday, with 80% saying they don’t plan to shop that day. In contrast, nearly 30% of young adults (18-24) – the highest level of support among different age brackets – plan to support Small Business Saturday.

But the numbers also show that a high percentage of people don’t really know when they plan to do their holiday shopping. For example, 57% said they would not be shopping on the most popular shopping day, Cyber Monday. Likewise, 62% said that they would not shop on Black Friday. Another interesting find is that 13% said they plan to shop on Christmas Eve. While this is a relatively low percentage of respondents, it does indicate that over 32 million Americans will be on the prowl for holiday bargains or some very last-minute gifts.

“The low percentage of people who say they’ll shop on big shopping days, including Christmas Eve, could mean that online shopping deals may be helping consumers procrastinate less,” explains Ms. Burgess. “On the other hand, it could just mean that last-minute shopping is never a planned event. People don’t want to do it, but the big day sneaks up on them.”

Consistent with past Consumers’ Research surveys, spending time with loved ones (55%) remains the most important priority for people during the holidays, followed by enhancing one’s spiritual life (20%), great meals (20%), sticking to a budget (19%), gift giving (15%), charitable giving (8%) and gift receiving (4%). The survey also asked what holiday gifts people found “very desirable.”

Once again, spending “quality time with loved ones” (55%) remains the most desirable gift, followed by: money (26%), getting a handmade gift (22%), receiving a gift card (19%), a monetary investment such as an IRA (13%) and a store-bought gift (12%). Cash-equivalent and financial investment gifts were particularly popular among young adults (18-24).

“It appears that when people say spending time with loved ones is important, they really mean it. Not only did 55% of respondents say that spending time with loved ones was their more important holiday priority, 55% also said quality with loved ones was the most desirable gift,” Ms. Burgess explained.

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

• 2016 survey:

• 2015 survey:

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: and follow Consumers’ Research on Twitter at @ConsumersFirst.

About the survey:
The survey was conducted from November 3-5 by OMNIWEB using the KnowledgePanel ™, a national online omnibus service of GfK Custom Research North America. A total of approximately 1,000 interviews were completed, made up of male and female adults (in approximately equal number), all 18 years of age and over. The margin of error on weighted data is + 3 percentage points for the full sample. The KnowledgePanel™ is the only commercially available online probability panel in the marketplace; making the sample truly projectable to the US population, which sets it apart from traditional “opt-in” or “convenience” panels.


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