Americans plan on spending more this holiday season

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Americans are in a more generous mood this holiday season, but they’re off to a slower start when it comes to shopping.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 34% of American adults have started their holiday shopping already. That’s down slightly from 37% a year ago at this time but a bit better than the 32% who had already begun shopping in mid-November 2012. Sixty-three percent (63%) haven’t got started yet.

Six percent (6%) say they have finished their holiday gift shopping already, but that’s down from nine percent (9%) the week before Thanksgiving last year. The vast majority (92%) still has shopping to do.

Forty-four percent (44%) of adults claim that they generally finish their holiday shopping early, but that’s down seven points from the 51% who told us a year ago they like to get an early start. Slightly more (47%) admit now that they’re procrastinators and tend to wait until the last minute.

Speaking of the last minute, 22% still hadn’t begun holiday shopping last year going into the last weekend before Christmas.

The good news for businesses is that Americans appear to be in more of a spending mood this year. Sixteen percent (16%) say they plan to spend more on gifts this holiday season than they did last year, up from 11% a year ago and 13% the year before that. Forty-four percent (44%) plan to spend less, but that compares to 56% who felt that way in mid-November 2013. Thirty-five percent (35%) expect to spend about the same amount as in previous years.

Short- and long-term outlooks for the U.S. economy are better than they’ve been in more than a year. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of Americans now think the economy will be stronger a year from now. Thirty-two percent (32%) say it will be weaker, but that’s down from 44% this past summer.

Consumer confidence also has been up in recent days.

Women are slightly more likely than men to have started their holiday shopping and to say they will finish early. As they have been for years, men tend to be the last-minute shoppers.

Generally speaking, the younger the adult, the more likely it is that he or she has already begun shopping. But adults under 40 are less likely to finish early.

Men and Americans under 40 plan to spend more this year than women and older adults.

Those with children in the home are more likely to be spending less this year than adults who don’t have children living with them.

Despite the increasing commercialization of the Christmas season, 67% of Americans still think Christmas is more about Jesus Christ than about Santa Claus.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.