Shoppers hold hands at Willow Grove Park Mall in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, November 14, 2020.
Mark Makela | Reuters
Almost 40% of Americans plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season than they did last year. This is the largest percentage since 2013, according to the CNBC All-America Economic Survey.
Only 11% plan to spend more as Americans continue to cope with rising Covid-19 cases and widespread unemployment. The average American plans to spend just $ 886, according to the survey, a 10% decrease from budgeted spending last year.
Of the 800 Americans surveyed, 29% said they wanted to spend less because of lost wages or income, 19% said they had the coronavirus and 17% said they had a poor economy. The survey shows an error rate of plus or minus 3.5%.
All income groups reported spending less this year than a year ago. And when it comes to the actual dollars they want to spend, the richest Americans might hold back the most.
“It seems like Americans who make more than $ 100,000 are holding back a little more than they were in 2019,” said Jay Campbell, partner at Hart Research, which serves as a Democratic pollster.
Americans could save for a possible downturn in 2021. A third of respondents believe the economy will deteriorate next year, twice as much as it did in October. This despite the development and the imminent use of a Covid vaccine. However, the outlook fell on a partisan basis: Republicans turned negative with the election of former Vice President Joe Biden, while Democrats turned positive.
American views of the current economic situation remain roughly the same as last quarter. 34% describe it as “good” or “excellent” compared to 62% who describe it as “fair” or “bad”.
While Americans plan to spend less overall this holiday season, they plan to spend a lot more online.
In a big leap, 55% say they’ll do most of their shopping online, compared to 43% a year ago. This is the largest gain in the survey’s 14 years and follows a three-year plateau in this metric. It is also the first time that more than half of the respondents favored online shopping. Big box stores and department stores are shouldering the brunt of this shift, with both falling as top choices for shoppers.
Amazon remains by far the top destination for online shoppers with a larger market share than all of its competitors combined. However, the survey shows that in a year when online shopping is soaring, competitors are limiting Amazon’s dominance.
Amazon was ranked the best online shopping destination by 37% of Americans, up just 2 points from last year. Specialty goods sites like Etsy got 5 points, and online purchases at Walmart and big box stores got 4 points each.
In a positive sign for small businesses, Americans had the least concern about actual small store visits and shopping, half of the worries reported about mall visits.