Consumer Reports Holiday Poll: Two-thirds of Americans Plan to Skip Shopping in Stores on Black Friday

Nov 21, 2012, 06:00 ET from Consumer Reports

Only 34 Percent Plan to Shop on Cyber Monday; Nine in Ten Americans are Looking Forward to Holidays

YONKERS, N.Y., Nov. 21, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Black Friday might traditionally be the most frenzied shopping day of the year, but this year two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans will not be hitting the stores, according to new Consumer Reports Holiday Poll. Thirty-four percent said they'll shop online during the weekend after Thanksgiving, and an equal number will shop online on Cyber Monday.

Although most Americans won't be hitting the stores this weekend, almost all are in the holiday spirit: 9 in 10 are looking forward to the holiday season – including 26 percent who are really looking forward to it.  

The full results of the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll are available at

The Consumer Reports Holiday Poll also revealed other signs of Americans' optimism heading into the winter holidays. When asked to take into account recent events in the country in the past year, such as the state of the economy and the recent presidential election, 84 percent said that they expected the upcoming holiday season to be at least as happy as it was last year. However, the Great Recession clearly had a financial impact: 51 percent said that they spend less money during the holiday season than they did before the recession.

"Our poll revealed that Americans have a mostly positive outlook on this year's holiday season and by-and-large aren't letting the economic malaise of the past few years dampen their spirits," said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports senior editor and resident shopping expert. "However, it's clear that the recession took a toll, as many consumers told us they spent more conservatively, and gave fewer and less-lavish gifts than they did before it hit, for example."

The Consumer Reports Holiday Poll revealed that 57 percent of Americans have yet to begin shopping for holiday gifts as of mid-November, versus 43 percent who have gotten started. The top reasons people gave for not having started shopping for gifts yet included:

  • I still have plenty of time (26 percent)
  • I don't have enough money (17 percent)
  • I'm waiting for sales or promotions (17 percent)
  • I've not had the time (13 percent)
  • I'm procrastinating (9 percent)
  • I cannot make up mind what to buy (8 percent)
  • I hate doing it (6 percent)

More Americans will be on a budget this holiday season (52 percent) compared to last year (41 percent), according to the Consumer Reports Holiday Poll. However, sticking to a budget can be more difficult in practice — 36 percent said they spent more than they budgeted for last year.  Additionally, 13 percent of those who used a credit card to purchase gifts last holiday season have yet to pay off all of their debt. Americans will charge a median amount of $375 to their credits cards this holiday season.

When asked which gifts they were considering giving this holiday season, the top items included clothing (52 percent), gift cards (46 percent), toys (39 percent), and cash (37 percent). And when deciding between the price of the gift and the quality of the gift, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans said they consider both equally.

Although gift cards continue to among the most popular holiday gifts, 15 percent of Americans still have at least one unused card from 2011.When asked why the cards haven't been spent, 29 percent said they haven't had time to use the card; 24 percent indicated they couldn't find anything they wanted to buy; and 23 percent (and 30 percent of men) simply forgot about the card. Seven percent cited the fact that card came from a store they didn't like.

Consumer Reports Poll Methodology

The Consumer Reports National Research Center designed a survey to explore general sentiment and shopping behaviors for the upcoming 2012 winter holiday season. In November 2012, GfK Custom Research administered the survey online to a nationally representative sample of over 1,500 randomly selected adult U.S. residents. The data were statistically weighted so that respondents in the survey were demographically and geographically representative of the U.S. population. The margin of error is +/- 3.1% points at the 95% confidence level. Fifty-four percent of the sample was female, and the median age was 47 years old.

Consumer Reports is the world's largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually.  Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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SOURCE Consumer Reports