Gallup sees late surge in holiday spending


The latest figures from pollster Gallup indicate that American consumers have upped the ante since November, adding over $100 to their anticipated holiday spending budget. It also marks a similar increase over spending in December 2008.

In its final holiday spending preview of the year, Gallup found the average American prepared to part with $743, up significantly from both November 2009, when the figure stood at $638; and December 2008, when it stood at $639. Gallup says this should translate into a 1% gain in sales for merchants, following a loss of 3.4% the previous year.

There was a marked increase in those planning to spend $1K or more – it stood at 22% in 2008, and is up to 29% now; but it stood at 33% in 2007. In general, the surge in consumer intentions is welcome, but still falls short of the levels registered in 2004-2007.

Gallup speculates that the last minute surge in spending plans may mark not an increase in overall consumer spending but rather a shift in the use of discretionary income that might otherwise have been spent on something else.

Gallup notes that consumer intention polling has been very volatile, and that for maximum benefit to the economy in general, consumer enthusiasm for spending needs to extend into the post-Christmas sale season.