Conference Board: Holiday season has all the makings of a good one but…

By Marianne Wilson – 11/07/2019

Confidence may be softening, but consumers are approaching the start of the holiday season eager to spend.

That’s according to a survey by The Conference Board, which reported that consumers are entering the holiday season in a highly festive mood, with intentions to spend about $675 on gifts this season. This is an increase over last year’s spending estimate of $627.

The positive results come with a caveat: Consumers say they are expecting steep discounts. In fact, more than a third say they expect – at a minimum – to purchase half their gifts at a discount.

“Consumers are gearing up for the holidays, with signs indicating they will not reign in their spending,” said Lynn Franco, senior director of economic indicators at The Conference Board. “Consumer confidence is at historically strong levels, the job market remains solid, and the economy is in a record-breaking year of expansion. Retailers should expect strong demand this season. However, as we have come to expect, consumers will be discerning when spending. Most will expect bargains, comparison shop, and wait up to the last minute for steep discounts.”

In other survey results:
• Approximately 10% of consumers plan to spend more this year on holiday gifts. The percent who plan to spend the same as last year increased from about 65% to 67%.

• More than 41% of consumers are planning to make at least half of their purchases online.

The survey of holiday gift spending intentions is conducted for The Conference Board by Nielsen.