November 1, 2011, 9:49 AM

Digital goods shoppers could prevent Santa from slacking off this year

Buyers of e-books, online music and similar goods will spend 40% more than other shoppers.

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The average consumer who purchases such digital goods as e-books, music and online credits for Facebook and video games will spend $440 on holiday gifts in November and December, 40% more than the average nondigital goods shopper, according to a study from Elastic Path Software Inc. 

The company, which sells technology that supports the online sale of digital goods, based its findings on a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by market research firm Vision Critical. The survey  found that 30% of digital goods shoppers plan to spend more this holiday season than last year on gifts of all types, including physical and digital, while only 13% plan to spend less compared to a year ago. “These figures indicate that retailers and e-tailers selling both virtual and physical goods could reap big returns this year,” the study says.

The study did not provide specifics on the number or percentage of digital goods shoppers who fall within certain age groups or have reached certain levels of education.  But Elastic Path Software says digital goods buyers are most likely to be male, university-educated and between the ages of 18 to 34.

Among the study’s other findings:

● 20% of all holiday shoppers will spend less on gifts of all types this holiday season than a year earlier, with 15% planning to spend more and 47% the same. 18% were unsure.

● Among holiday shoppers of digital goods, 13% plan to spend less on gifts of all types, 30% plan to spend more and 53% the same as last year.  4% were unsure.

● 36% of digital goods shoppers plan to spend more on digital products than a year ago, with 12% planning to spend less and 47% the same. 5% were unsure.

● The most desirable types of digital goods across all age groups are e-books, cited by 11% of digital shoppers; music, 11%; apps for tablets and other mobile devices, 10%; and credits for digital games, 8%.

● The top reason survey respondents cited for wanting to buy digital goods, noted by 29% of shoppers, is that they can purchase digital goods at the last minute and deliver them instantly; 22% cited the absence of shipping charges; and 19% said they liked not having to wrap digital gifts.

● When survey respondents were asked to name the most desirable device they would like to receive as a gift, the largest group, or 24%, said they’d prefer to receive a laptop or desktop computer; when asked what device they’d mostly like to give a gift, the largest group, or 15%, said they’d give a tablet computer.

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