The average consumer plans to spend an estimated $671.89 this holiday season, up from $648.85 in 2002, according to a survey conducted by Bigresearch for the National Retail Federation.
That increase would boost overall holiday sales across all offline and online channels, expected this year to rise 5.7 percent to $217.4 billion, the largest such jump since 1999.
Most of the projected holiday spending will go toward gifts, the Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey showed. Consumers, on average, will spend $393.69 on gifts for family members, $73.27 on friends, $17.16 on co-workers and $34.32 on assorted gifts.
They also plan to spend $79.42 on candy and food, $34.18 on decorations, $25.79 on greeting cards and postage and $14.06 on flowers.
The survey, which polled 8,234 consumers Oct. 2-10 with a 1 percent margin of error, found 50.8 percent will rely on sales and promotions to buy $74.48 worth of non-gift items for themselves.
Last year's gifts largely retain favor. More than half of the surveyed consumers expect to receive books, CDs, DVDs, videos, video games, apparel or apparel-related accessories.
But it was surprising to note that 48.4 percent wished for gift cards this year, up from 41.3 percent last holidays. The survey found 33.9 percent of the consumers wanted electronics, 23.9 percent jewelry and 20.8 percent home furnishings.
Price stayed the major determinant in where to shop. Two out of five consumers cited sales or discounts for shopping at certain stores, and 20.7 percent shopped at places offering everyday low prices. Another fifth will shop based on store location.
So it is not surprising that 75.1 percent of the surveyed shoppers plan to visit discounters this holiday season. More than half also said they will visit department stores, 44.4 percent grocery stores, 36.7 percent specialty shops like apparel or electronics stores and 36 percent online.
In a changing trend, many respondents reported starting holiday shopping earlier this year. An estimated 42.8 percent already have begun, up from 39.1 percent last year. Another 35 percent plan to start in November, and 22.1 percent will wait until December.