$773 average holiday gift budget for Twin Cities families - KMSP-TV

$773 average holiday gift budget for Twin Cities families

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

Holiday gift spending is getting close to pre-recession levels, according to the annual University of St. Thomas Holiday Spending Sentiment Survey, released Wednesday.

The survey looks at how much Twin Cities shoppers intend to spend, what they're buying and where they're shopping.

AVERAGE BUDGET: $773

This year's predicted household spending for holiday gifts, $773, compares to $703 last year and $680 in 2010. Over the past 10 years, the lowest was $637 in 2009 and the highest was $796 in 2004.

CHRISTMAS COMEBACK

Data shows that a decline in holiday spending began in 2007, but was especially pronounced in 2008 when shoppers said they were trimming budgets by more than 10 percent. The turnaround began in 2010, with a predicted 8 percent uptick, and continued in 2011 with a predicted 3.4 percent increase.

Household spending for holiday gifts this year is predicted to be 9.95 percent more than last year.

‘A SENSE OF OPTIMISM THIS YEAR'

The research was conducted by Dr. Lorman Lundsten, Jon Seltzer and Dr. John Sailors of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business.

"When you look at 11 years of survey data, you can trace the mood of Twin Cities shoppers before, during and after the recession," Lundsten said. "A sense of optimism this year comes through not only in the numbers, but also in the respondents' written replies. At the height of the recession, these responses reflected considerable fear and caution. This year's respondents are a more cheerful group and they have a more optimistic outlook."

"In terms of consumer sentiment, I think we might be seeing the new normal," Seltzer said. "Our data indicate that shoppers are adjusting to fears brought on by the recession."

And unlike recent years, the respondents did not bring up the price of gas in their open-ended responses.

MOST POPULAR GIFTS

The categories, listed by most-popular first, are:

1. Cash

2. Clothing and accessories

3. Gift certificates

4. Travel

5. Computers and related items

6. Books

7. Toys

8. Video games and related items

9. Furniture and home décor

10. Sporting goods

11. Cell phones

12. Other electronics

13. Jewelry

WHERE YOU'RE SHOPPING

Shopping malls remain popular, accounting for about half of all shopping, but they gave up some ground to non-mall stores and to the internet.

Target and Macy's were clearly the winners in the store category, followed by Best Buy, Herberger's and Kohl's. Last year, Target had been mentioned twice as often as second-place Macy's, compared to a tie this year.

TOP MALLS / SHOPPING AREAS

1. Mall of America

2. Rosedale

3. Southdale

4. Ridgedale

5. Albertville

6. downtown Minneapolis

7. Eden Prairie

8. Burnsville

9. Arbor Lakes Area

10. Maplewood

11. Woodbury Lakes

12. Northtown, Riverdale Area and downtown St. Paul (three-way tie)

This is only the second time Rosedale didn't finish No. 1 in the most-shopped list and only the second time Mall of America held the top spot. Eden Prairie moved up four spots, from ninth to fifth; Woodbury Lakes moved up seven, from 13th to sixth; Southdale moved down three, from sixth to ninth; and Maplewood moved down five, from fifth to 10th. Downtown St. Paul has been at the bottom since the survey began.

AMAZON KING OF THE ONLINE JUNGLE

Amazon was mentioned five times more often than second-place Target for online shopping. Rounding out the top five were eBay, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble. Last year, Amazon was mentioned seven times more often than second-place eBay; they were followed by Target, Barnes & Noble and Craigslist.

SURVEY METHOD

This year's holiday spending survey included 304 responses from households in the 13-county Minneapolis-St. Paul Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes two counties in western Wisconsin. The respondents reflect the demographics of the area as well as those who responded to previous holiday spending surveys.

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