Poll: Holiday Spending Will Hold Steady

Despite the sagging economy, 65 percent of consumers plan to spend as much as or more than last year this holiday season, according to a consumer survey released yesterday conducted by Harris Interactive and Blue Martini Software Inc., a San Mateo, CA, customer relationship management applications provider.

The survey also found that consumers plan to start shopping earlier than usual this season because it has six fewer shopping days than previous years. Twenty-seven percent said they would start holiday shopping right after Halloween, while about 19 percent said they would wait until the day after Thanksgiving. This means the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year, might be a little less frantic, Blue Martini said.

Blue Martini said the poll also showed that online shopping remains an important component of the holiday gift-buying experience. Thirty percent of consumers plan to use the Internet for at least part of their holiday shopping. Those who shop online seek variety to complement their in-store purchases, with more than half expecting to buy gifts at three or more Web sites.

According to the survey, several factors will dictate where consumers make the bulk of their purchases. Thirty-five percent cited selection and quality of merchandise as most important when selecting stores and Web sites. Sales, promotions and loyalty programs, such as frequent-shopper discounts, were second for 26 percent polled.

For the survey, Harris conducted a regionally representative sample of 1,000 Americans 18 or older. Interviews were conducted Oct. 24-27.

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