October 13, 2006, 12:00 AM

Traditional gifts to regain wallet share this holiday, survey finds

Consumers will spend slightly more on clothes, toys and other mainstream gifts this holiday over last year, an NPD Group survey finds.


Retailers will experience sales growth, though modest, over last year’s holiday season, according to the annual Holiday Survey by the NPD Group. And despite concerns about the cost of gasoline, survey results suggest this may not, after all, affect consumers` holiday spending plans or decisions on whether or not to shop online to save on fuel costs.

While the survey did not specifically ask shoppers if they would shop more online this holiday to conserve on gasoline costs, it did find that about the same number of shoppers surveyed this year-38%-say they will shop online as said so in last year’s survey-37%. And, like last year, they’ll be doing most of their holiday shopping at discount/mass merchant outlets, followed by retail chains and then online stores. 65% said they plan to purchase at discount and mass merchant retailers, vs. 67% who said so last year; while 40% said they’d buy at retail chains this year vs. 39% who said so last year.

As in last year’s survey, online stores were the third most-cited shopping venue. “Rising gas prices and their impact on holiday shopping was all the talk earlier this year,” says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group. “It looks like that’s not going to happen. Gas prices are falling and 74% of our panelists say gas prices won’t dampen their spirits and they will shop on.”

Overall, shoppers say they plan to spend an average $728 this year vs. $681 last year. And shoppers are more likely to spend in traditional gift categories. “This season will be marked by the return of shoppers to the tried and true gift items. Things like clothing and toys should see gains,” Cohen says.

Specifically, 65% of consumers surveyed said they plan to spend more on clothing this year, vs. the previous year, compared with 64% who said so last year. 47% said they’d spend more on toys vs. 45% who said so last year. Consumers also named books, music and fragrances as categories in which they’d spend more this year than last year. The only surveyed category to drop was consumer electronics: 43% said they planned in 2006 to increase spending on electronics over the previous year compared with 55% who said in 2005 they’d increase spending over the previous year.

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