The State of Americans' Spending Habits during the 2010 Holiday Season - Annual Holiday Shopping Index

Wave One Stands at 83.8, Indicating Most Consumer Spending is Still up for Grabs

Nov 24, 2010, 09:05 ET from StrategyOne

NEW YORK, Nov. 24, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- With the traditional holiday shopping season just beginning, retail stores and online merchants are angling to capture their share of consumer spending. StrategyOne, a Daniel J. Edelman strategic research and measurement consultancy firm, today launched its annual Holiday Shopping Index to help forecast the shape of this year's holiday spending - especially in the early weeks of the season. The survey concluded that 88% of consumers have more gifts and presents still to purchase, and 79% are undecided about exactly what gifts to buy this year.

Designed to provide a weekly quantitative appraisal of how much shopping consumers have to do, this weekly survey provides insights into consumer attitudes and perceptions surrounding their gift shopping habits and focuses on the specific shopping plans of individual consumers and how they evolve over the course of the season.  The Index opened at 83.8 points and was determined based on a poll of 1,035 Americans conducted last week by StrategyOne.  

"With Americans just turning their attention to the holiday season, it's a critical time for retailers and marketers to reach undecided consumers," said Bradley Honan, senior vice president of StrategyOne. "This is especially true for consumers who are looking for sales or other incentives to get them into stores."

Additional Key Findings:

  • With the nation still grappling with an economic downturn, value is an important consideration for consumers, with 86% reporting they would be happy to see more discounts and bargains in stores during their holiday shopping.
  • Looking at planned holiday shopping budgets, 39% of Americans said they expect to spend between $100 and $400 this year on gifts, 23% plan to spend $400 to $700, 10% expect to spend $700 to $1,000, and 7% plan to spend $1,000 or more.
  • Forty percent said that they hadn't done more holiday shopping yet because they were waiting for better deals or lower prices, while 27% reported that uncertainty over what to buy had delayed their gift purchases.
  • Seventy-six percent of consumers also reported they had spent less than 50% of their expected holiday budget – and 41% said they had only spent 10% or less of their expected total.
  • Just 12% said they knew exactly what presents and gifts to buy for their remaining purchases.

This week's index level will also serve as the baseline figure for the remaining weeks of the holiday retail season.

About the StrategyOne Holiday Shopping Index:

The annual StrategyOne index is built using two criteria: first, the percentage of consumers polled each week who indicate they still have more gifts to purchase, and second, the level of certainty these consumers have about their intended gift purchases. By factoring together both of these components, the Holiday Shopping Index provides a good aggregate indicator of how open consumers are to gift ideas and suggestions, as well as other marketing interventions, as the season progresses.

Methodology of the StrategyOne Holiday Shopping Index:

The StrategyOne Holiday Shopping Index is calculated based on data obtained from a weekly survey of about 1,000 US consumers. The survey includes questions related to consumers' expectations and attitudes surrounding holiday shopping.  Once the survey is completed, StrategyOne tabulates the percentage of respondents who indicated that they:

  1. Still have "some more" or "a lot more" gifts and presents to purchase;
  2. Have spent 50% or less of their total holiday gift budget;
  3. Still plan to spend more than $100 on gifts or presents;
  4. Are "up in the air" or "mostly open to suggestions" about some or all of their anticipated gift purchases;  
  5. Have not done more holiday shopping because they are not sure what to buy, are waiting for better deals, or generally shop later in the season; and
  6. Would be "happy" to see more holiday shopping discounts because they still have presents to buy.

The percentage of those who responded affirmatively to these inquiries are added up and divided by the total number of applicable questions. The resulting number is then used as an "index value" and compared against the prior week's level.

For more information about the Shopping Index, please visit the StrategyOne website;  


Polling Dates

# of Consumers Polled

Margin of Sampling Error


November 15-17

1,035 US Consumers

= +/-3.14%

Statistical weights were designed from the United States Census Bureau.  The survey data was collected online.

About StrategyOne:

StrategyOne, a Daniel J. Edelman company, employs custom public opinion research and secondary research methodologies to deliver strategic counsel to corporate, organizational and governmental clients globally.  With offices in Atlanta, Chicago, London, New York, Paris, San Mateo, Washington, D.C., and Abu Dhabi StrategyOne provides global clients with evidence based stakeholder insights, analysis and measurement. Visit  for more information.

About Edelman:

Edelman is the world's largest independent public relations firm, with wholly-owned offices in 53 cities and 3,600 employees worldwide.  Edelman was named Advertising Age's top-ranked PR firm of the decade and one of its 2010 Best Places to Work; Adweek's "2009 Agency of the Year"; PRWeek's "2009 Agency of the Year" and "UK Consultancy of the Year"; and Holmes Report's "Agency of the Decade," "2009 Best Large Agency to Work For" and "2009 Asia Pacific Consultancy of the Year." Edelman owns specialty firms Blue (advertising), StrategyOne (research), RUTH (integrated marketing), DJE Science (medical and science communications), and MATTER (sports, sponsorship, and entertainment).  Visit for more information.

SOURCE StrategyOne