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Conference Board Predicts Slight Decrease In 2005 Holiday Spending

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The Conference Board reported that U.S. households are expected to spend an average of $466 on gifts during the holiday season, down moderately from last year’s estimate of $476. This survey of holiday gift spending intentions covers a nationally representative sample of 5,000 U.S. households. It was conducted for The Conference Board in November by TNS, the world’s largest custom research company. “Consumers appear to have less Christmas spirit heading into Thanksgiving this year than last year,” says Lynn Franco, Director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “This cautious attitude will have consumers shopping for bargains this season. Retailers will need to offer discounts and promotions to get shoppers into their stores.” The top holiday spenders will be New England households (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont) who intend to spend $568. Lowest holiday spending will be in the East South Central (Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi) and West South Central (Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas) regions where households expect to spend $423. Both these regions were hard hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Slightly more than 32 percent of all households will spend $500 or more on holiday gifts, with 37 percent spending $200-$500 and the remaining 30 percent planning to spend less than $200. ONLINE BUYING CONTINUES TO RISE About 34 percent of all consumers will buy holiday gifts on the Internet, up from 33 percent a year ago. Books top the list of online holiday buying, with nearly 45 percent saying they will buy books as gifts. Clothing and shoes rank next as online holiday buying choices, followed closely by toys. Of the 33 percent who said they purchased holiday gifts last year on the Internet, 94 percent said they were satisfied with their online buying experience. Other key findings in The Conference Board survey: -Households headed by individuals 45-54 intend to spend the most this year, with $505 the average expenditure. -Households headed by those aged 35-44 represent the second largest spending group. For them, average expenditures are expected to reach $477. -Households whose incomes top $50,000 intend to spend $657 for holiday gifts. Source: The Conference Board / Christmas Spending Survey 2005

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