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Consumers’ Reliance on Credit Cards for Holiday Purchases Lowest Since ’02, According to NRF

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For Immediate Release
Kathy Grannis (202)783-7971 or grannisk@nrf.com

Consumers’ Reliance on Credit Cards for Holiday Purchases Lowest Since ’02, According to NRF

- Debit Cards, Cash Will Be Most Popular Ways to Pay-

Washington, November 16, 2010 – To ensure they only spend within their budget, more Americans will use their debit cards or cash for their holiday purchases, while the use of credit cards is expected to decrease. According to NRF’s 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, more than four out of 10 (43.0%) holiday shoppers will rely on debit cards as a primary form of payment, a 20 percent increase from 2005’s 34.3 percent. Slightly more than a quarter (27.6%) of shoppers will charge their gifts - the lowest since 2002’s 26.8 percent - and 25.7 percent will use cash, up from 24.9 percent last year.

“Many families may choose to leave credit cards at home as they shop this year, making sure to only purchase what’s on their list and within their budget,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “A variety of promotions ranging from free shipping to one-day sales will make it easier for shoppers to afford the perfect gift for their loved ones this holiday season.” 

Early Black Friday sales and special holiday offers seem to have already made an impact on shoppers this year with 10.5 percent of consumers saying they’ve completed at least half of their shopping, compared to 9.2 percent at this time last year. That said, slightly more than half of Americans (51.1%) have yet to begin their shopping.

As expected, basics and necessities will take a back seat to discretionary items, with jewelry and gift cards high on people’s shopping lists this year. According to the survey, 20.3 percent of holiday gift givers say they will buy jewelry, up from 18.4 percent last year. This correlates with NRF’s first holiday survey, which found that more people would request jewelry this year (23.0% vs. 20.8% in 2009). Other popular gifts will include clothing or clothing accessories (58.5%); gift cards (55.1%); books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (52.8%); toys (41.9%) and food or candy (28.8%).

“After years of practicality, Americans are slowly getting back into the spirit of giving gifts their family and friends may not buy themselves,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Many people will make a list and check it twice, but the fun of buying someone a gift they’ve had their eye on all year never gets old.”

About the Survey

The NRF 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,778 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 3-9, 2010. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch® consumer intelligence provides analysis of behavior in areas of products and services, retail, financial services, automotive and media. The BIGresearch Consumer Intentions and Actions® Survey (CIATM) of 8,000+ respondents is conducted monthly and the Simultaneous Media Usage® Survey (SIMM®) of 15,000+ respondents is conducted semi-annually.

As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion. www.nrf.com