AmEx Survey Reveals Good News for Retailers Through the Holidays


With one major December holiday down and others rapidly approaching, a new survey by American Express (NYSE:AXP) predicts sunny skies for retailers as they continue their trek through the season of gift giving.

The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker says retailers can expect eager-to-buy customers up until the very end of the holiday shopping season, with 84% of the 2,031 US consumers polled admitting they have yet to fully check off their holiday to-do list.

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Even better, more than a quarter of those participants who already started their shopping said they are spending more this year than last for reasons that vary from expanded gift lists to more expensive items. Some 33% of shoppers said they’d be on the hunt for gifts for themselves while simultaneously shopping for others.

Bargain hunters will continue looking for deals even after the holidays, with 43% planning to hit shops on the day following Christmas, according to the survey, which included affluent and young professional subgroups along with the general US population.

“It’s encouraging to see gift lists growing again with many consumers adding themselves to their own list – these are promising signs as the holiday shopping season continues,” said Pamela Codispoti, American Express executive vice president and general manager of consumer card products.

Shoppers are expected to be most generous with their children this year, spending $341 on average, followed by their spouse or significant other at $189 on average.

Consumers are expected to spend more on their mother than father, coughing up $72 and $45, respectively. In-laws, meanwhile, are expected to see gifts valued at $56 on average, with grandparents lagging at $27.

Pets are also expected to fare well this season, with 31% of consumers planning to buy their animal a gift for about $18 on average.

The survey offers good news for retailers across the board, with nearly 30% of the participants saying they will look to purchase online, 64% shopping in stores and about 63% visiting small business retailers.

“We are pleased to hear that consumers are spreading their spending across a diverse mix of retailers this year,” Codispoti said.

The survey follows the Commerce Department’s announcement that retail sales gained more-than-expected in November, up 0.8%, advancing for a fifth straight month. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had only expected an increase of 0.6%. Sales were up 7.7% from the year-earlier period.

According to AmEx, most consumers, about 73%, said they had plans to celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah with family and friends this season, with some 62% planning on attending or hosting a holiday party. A mere 8% will celebrate at a restaurant.

About 43% of study participants plan on attending some kind of party to ring in the New Year, however regardless of how they’re welcoming 2011, about 75% plan on spending money on anything from a haircut to new outfit, the study shows.

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