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More Holiday Shoppers Plan to Pay with Cash, Debit Cards this Year; Fewer Rely on Credit

View complete survey results and sample charts.

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

More Holiday Shoppers Plan to Pay with Cash, Debit Cards this Year; Fewer Rely on Credit
-NRF Holiday Survey Finds Clothing, Toys Top Gift Lists-

Washington, November 17, 2009 – It’s the year for a little more green and a little less plastic. According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions survey, conducted by BIGresearch, one-fourth (24.9%) of holiday shoppers will pay for gifts this year with cash, a 9.2 percent increase from last year’s 22.8 percent. In addition, 42.5 percent of shoppers plan to pay primarily with debit or check cards, a 2.5 percent increase from last year. The number of shoppers who will rely on credit cards is expected to fall 10.2 percent, with 28.3 percent of people using credit this year compared to 31.5 percent a year ago. Just four percent of holiday shoppers plan to pay for most gifts with personal checks.

“With many holiday shoppers focused on spending within their limits, it’s no surprise that fewer people will be relying on credit cards this year,” said Tracy Mullin, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation. “If the strong promotions and sales we’ve seen the last few weeks are any indication of what retailers are planning, shopping on a budget this year will not be a problem.”

Despite the talk of low inventory, many shoppers seem to be slow to head to the stores this holiday season. According to the survey, 52.4 percent of consumers have not yet begun their holiday shopping, and an additional 21.2 percent said they have completed less than one-tenth of their list.

“While many retailers are already aggressively promoting popular holiday gift items, Black Friday might be the tipping point for shoppers this year,” said Phil Rist, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “Many shoppers are anxiously anticipating the deals and bargains that retailers will unveil in the days after Thanksgiving.”

Early announcements of planned Black Friday promotions such as 50 percent off of outerwear, $25 designer apparel and $10 toys may have influenced what people plan to buy this holiday season. According to the survey, more people plan to buy clothing (58.4% vs. 57.4% in 2008) and toys (42.2% vs. 41.6% in 2008) this year. Other items on shopping lists include gift cards (54.3%), consumer electronics (28.6%), food and candy (27.6%), personal care or beauty items (22.4%) and jewelry (18.4%).

About the Survey
The NRF 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey was designed to gauge consumer behavior and shopping trends related to the winter holidays. The survey polled 8,692 consumers and was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch from November 3-10, 2009. The consumer poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent.

BIGresearch is a consumer market intelligence firm that provides unique consumer insights that are gathered online utilizing very large sample sizes. BIGresearch’s syndicated Consumer Intentions and Actions survey monitors the pulse of more than 8,000 consumers each month to empower its clients with unique insights for identifying opportunities in a fragmented and changing marketplace.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.