January 20, 2011, 1:26 PM

Consumers had more fun with their 2010 holiday gift buying, survey says

The online outlook is promising for next year, too.

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Consumers’ gift choices showed a return to fun as 53% of shoppers said they bought a fairly equal mix of fun gifts and practical gifts this season—which wasn't the case a year ago, according to a survey conducted late in the holiday season and newly released by payments company MasterCard Worldwide.

The survey also revealed the influence online social networks had on identifying those fun gifts and deciding where to buy them. 34% of 18- to 24-year-olds consumers said they used social networks to get ideas about which gifts to buy and 25% to get ideas about where to buy them. The results come from a Dec. 15-19 telephone conducted by research firm Harris Interactive.

The MasterCard Holiday Shopping Survey also suggests that consumers are prepared to keep shopping into 2011. 61% of consumers said they did not plan on cutting back on overall spending in 2011 as a result of holiday shopping, but they did indicate they would be looking for more value. 51% said they intend to take more advantage of sales. The survey also revealed that 22% of consumers used their mobile phones to help them find those values during the holiday gift buying season.

“Consumers relied heavily on online shopping sites to find the best deals and value, not to mention save time and cut through the busy holiday clutter,” says Melody Miller, group head of commerce solutions at MasterCard Worldwide. “In addition, social networks and mobile phones will continue to heavily influence how consumers shop in the years to come.”

Looking ahead to next holiday season, consumers said they want online retailers to provide more free shipping opportunities (58%), faster shipping options (40%), additional discounts (52%) and e-mail discount offers (40%).

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