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Christmas in Tough Times: How We Shop

28 November 2012 in Trading Ideas

Wherever you are on the supposed debate about a US recession – we’re nowhere close/we’re on the brink/we’ve already begun one – what seems less arguable is that economic growth isn’t terribly impressive.

With that backdrop, a recent infographic from the UK highlights a few interesting nuggets of information about consumer intentions this holiday season.

One caveat:  the data is from a survey of UK subscribers to LoveMyVouchers.co.uk, so comparisons to US sentiment should be done at your own risk. Most notably, the economy in Great Britain has struggled more than here recently, and it was just last month that the UK was wildly celebrating a rise out of recession with a huge 1% growth in GDP in its last quarter. In the US, meanwhile, the economy grew 2% in the third quarter.

On the other hand, the world is a much smaller place these days, and it could be reasonable to assume that citizens of Western countries with less-than-stellar economic growth think similarly about their holiday shopping.

Here are a few of the interesting findings:

— The survey’s respondents said they expected their overall Christmas spending to be down 21% from a year ago, but they projected their food bill would be only 11% less. The Christmas ham is alive and well, apparently.

— Surprising probably nobody, the most popular gift target for people this year is electronics, with 35% of people saying they would spend their Christmas budget in this way. Twenty-eight percent answered “other,” followed closely by beauty products, which, as it happens, turns up as a key segment in the new Vanity Flair motif.

— When asked who they’ll spend money on this year, the kids win: 43% of respondents saying they would spend much more on their children than anyone else, well above any other options. This inclination of parents’ firewall around spending on their kids is also the idea behind the new Child’s Play motif.

— The younger you are, the more likely you are to buy your gifts online. While respondents over 55 years old will only buy 32% of their gifts online, more than two-thirds of those aged 18 to 25 will do so. Twenty percent of all online purchases will be done via a smartphone or tablet.

— With fiscal belt-tightening in order, 41% of respondents said they didn’t plan to incur any debt from Christmas spending, while another 39% said they intended to keep their debt to 800 US dollars or less. Interestingly, one in five people surveyed said they would go over that mark – and as much (or deep) as $1,600 in the hole.