Consumer spending during this year's holiday season is expected to be slightly higher than in 2009, despite worries about the general state of the economy, according to Deloitte's 25th Annual Holiday Survey. The survey found that 62% of those questioned plan to spend more or the same on the holidays, up 11% from Deloitte's
2009 holiday survey and the highest level since 2006.

The average total holiday spend per consumer is expected to grow to
$1,160 this year, up from $1,145 in 2009. Consumers plan to spend a
total of $466 on gifts, the first increase
since 2004. However, the average number of gifts fell for the third
consecutive year, to 16.8.

Consumers hold a conservative outlook on the U.S. economy, with
nearly four out of 10 (39%) of those surveyed expecting the economy to
improve next year, down from more than half (54%) who anticipated an
improvement at this time last year. Two-thirds (66%) of consumers surveyed indicate their household
financial situation is the same or better than last year at this time, a
10 percentage point rise from 2009.

Consumers, however, maintain a careful approach to spending, as nearly
three-quarters (73%) plan to change the way they shop this holiday
season in an effort to save money. Almost half (46%) of those surveyed intend to purchase more gifts with
cash than they have in the past, and 36% say they have permanently cut
back the amount of money they spend.

Mobile and online channels influence holiday purchases

  • Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents indicate that online research will influence their holiday purchases.
  • Shoppers will also reach for their phones before reaching for their wallets. Among the nearly one out of five shoppers (17%) who plan to use their smartphones in the holiday shopping process, 56% of them will do so to compare prices, up from 45% in 2009.
  • More than one out of 10 (12%) of consumers will turn to social networks for information such as gift ideas and coupons, discounts and sale information this holiday season. Generation Y, or respondents in the 18 to 29 years old age group, will lead the holiday dialogue online, with one-quarter (25%) planning to visit social media channels.

Gift cards hold the top spot on shoppers' lists

  • Gift cards land at the top of the list of gift items consumers plan to purchase for the seventh year in a row. However, the total number of cards that consumers plan to buy slipped to 5, from 5.4 in 2009.
  • Gift cards also continue to grow in favor among gift recipients; more than four out of 10 (44%) of consumers prefer to receive gift cards rather than merchandise, a number that has risen over the past four years from 35% in 2006.