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That’s not a good sign for already-struggling retailers. Twenty-eight percent of consumers — more than a quarter — will shell out less on gifts this holiday season compared to last, a new Gallup poll released Tuesday found.
Gallup surveyed 1,035 American adults between Sept. 30 and Oct. 15 and found participants estimated they will spend an average of $805 on gifts this year. That’s less than the $942 spent last year, and the lowest spending projection Gallup has measured since 2016, signaling sluggish sales for retailers already grappling with losses from COVID-19-related shutdowns earlier this year.
Holiday spending typically increases year-over-year, jumping 3.3% on average since 2000, with sales climbing more than 5% in strong years and 2% in weaker years, according to data from the National Retail Federation, as reported by Gallup. The last time forecasted holiday sales were this bad was during the financial crisis in 2008 and in the aftermath during the recession in 2009.
With COVID-19 cases spiking again and the uncertainty surrounding the next round of stimulus checks, fewer Americans are seemingly willing to spend money on nonessential purchases like gifts.
Indeed, separate research from a COVID Response Tracking Study by NORC at the University of Chicago in July suggested that roughly a quarter of Americans say they burned through some of their savings and lost income, with two in 10 reporting job loss.