Accustomed to pinching pennies thanks to years of economic downturn, holiday shoppers this year will look for ways to cut corners, comparative shop online and even plan to travel less, if not at all, the National Retail Federation said in its annual shopping forecast for the Christmas season.
On average, the NRF expects holiday consumers to spend $749.51 on holiday gifts, decor, greeting cards and more in 2012. That's more than the $740.57 shoppers actually spent in 2011.
And before you think Patch is reporting on the holiday season, think again.
According to the survey, nearly half of Americans say they've begun holiday shopping before Halloween—12.3 percent of those surveyed before September; 7 percent during September; and 22.1 percent by the end of October.
Locally, Mehlville-Oakville Patch readers said even if it is too early to start shopping, that won't stop the stores from stocking Christmas goods before Halloween even starts.
"We have no choice NOT to think about it, it's shoved down our throats already," Julie Kowalewski Mataya said on Facebook. "Cards are out, commercials are on and toy catalogs are being circled at our house. I already feel like I am behind and it's not even Halloween - which I don't even have a pumpkin yet. Geesh!"
But shopping early does have its benefits.
"Better to start early, beat the crowds, and it allows me to budget better and pay cash instead of waiting til end and running up credit cards," said Kevin Rotellini on Facebook.
The biggest portion of shoppers’ budget this year will go towards gifts for family members with the average person planning to spend $421.82, the report says.
And, perhaps not surprisingly, more than half of holiday shoppers will shop online for gifts for loved ones. In fact, the average person will complete nearly 40 percent of their shopping on websites.
What about you? Is it too early to be shopping for the holidays? When do you begin shopping (or have you already)? And what about online shopping? Is it killing the holiday spirit or is it just another efficiency that makes our lives that much better?