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.
"Perhaps boosted by interest in layaway options or an urge to score the season’s 'must have' item before it is too late," the survey said.
Heather Hickman Wilcox wrote on our Facebook page that she's gotten most of her holiday shopping done with the exception of a few odds and ends.
"Yes, we get a jump on it, but I cannot stand to shop after Thanksgiving," she wrote.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, Mickey Pietrzak wrote that he waits until the last couple of weeks to go shopping.
"I don't mind crowds. The early push makes me pretty sick," he wrote.
The biggest portion of shoppers’ budget this year will go toward 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?