WASHINGTON D.C., Nov 16, 2011/ — Looking to make the most out of their gift budgets this year, holiday shoppers are already out in full force, grabbing electronics, apparel, sporting goods and jewelry along the way.

According to NRF’s 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, early Black Friday sales and special holiday offers have piqued many Americans’ interest as over half of Americans (51.4%) have started their holiday shopping, up from 48.9 percent last year.

“Hoping to spread some holiday cheer, retailers are already offering promotions on everyday items that budget-conscious shoppers know their friends and family members can wear or use on a daily basis,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Whether it’s free shipping on select online orders or discounts across the board, those looking for great deals on items – either as a gift or for themselves – won’t have to look far.”

Though holiday shoppers will be slightly more frugal with their budgets this holiday season, they aren’t planning to completely skimp on their loved ones’ wish lists.

According to the survey, the number of Americans who will make purchases in more discretionary gift categories is rising, with people planning to purchase more home décor or home-related furnishings (18.3% vs. 16.5% in 2010), jewelry (21.2% vs. 20.3% last year), sporting goods or leisure items (17.8% vs. 15.5% last year), and personal care or beauty items (24.0% vs. 22.4%.).

Those wishing for a new smartphone, tablet or computer accessory won’t be disappointed either – nearly one-third (32.2% vs. 28.4% in 2010) of holiday shoppers will buy electronics or computer accessories.

Additionally, nearly six in 10 (58.6%) plan to purchase clothing or clothing accessories, 43.1 percent will buy toys, and 30.1 percent will give food and/or candy. Most consumers will buy gift cards this year (57.3%), marking the highest percent in the survey’s 10-year history and correlating with NRF’s first holiday survey which found that gift cards were also the most requested gift item.

The survey also found shoppers are still keen on using money they already have or have saved up to purchase holiday gifts as 44.0 percent will rely on debit cards as their primary form of payment, the most in the survey’s 10-year history. Additionally, 24.1 percent will use cash and 3.1 percent will use a check. Nearly three in 10 (28.8%) will charge their gifts.

“Consumers across the country are already sampling the promotions that retailers are offering, being cautious not to over spend by using what’s in their checking accounts and hoping to avoid a bill come January,” said Pam Goodfellow, Consumer Insights Director, BIGresearch. “Given shoppers’ hunger for value and good deals, Black Friday and Cyber Monday will be incredibly important days for retailers this year.”


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