Consumers are feeling more festive this season than last, according to the most recent American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Survey respondents plan on giving gifts and having fun, even though more than half (54%) are unsure about where the economy is headed.
To help them stay within spending limits though, people are making budgets and looking for a great deal even if it means waiting until the last minute. Two-thirds of the 1,500 participants said they are making a budget, and three-quarters of them said they thinking about waiting until closer to the holiday to finish their shopping.
This year more people are looking to have more fun during the holidays. Sixteen percent report plans to have dinner out with family or friends, up from 11% last year. And movies are in favor, with 11% of respondents reporting they’ll take one in compared to only 7% last year.
Looking good is also part of the holiday landscape with about half of folks planning on getting a haircut and a new outfit.
Cash, gift cards and regifting are trending
Once again, Americans are hoping to find cash and gift cards in their stockings. They have held the top spots when it comes to preferred gifts for the last three years. Thirty percent will be using the money to buy gifts for someone else, 27% will be splurging on themselves, and nearly a quarter (22%) will be paying down bills.
While gift cards can expire, that shouldn’t be a problem. Nearly a fifth of those expecting them plan on using them right away, and 43% said the funds on the cards will be gone within the month.
And some might be regifting. A third admitted they did last year and three-quarters said it’s okay to recycle presents.
Charities will also be the beneficiary of consumer generosity during the holidays, with two-thirds of respondents saying that they will be donating an average of $130 to a favorite charity.