Why Christmas Advertising Will Be Less Effective This Year

Christmas Stocking with coal

With the first holiday shopping ads launching September 9, it was starting to look a lot like Christmas earlier than ever this year. But while it’s going to look and feel like much more advertising’s out there, a November 14 Gallup report suggests that advertisers will have less to show for it.

Trimming holiday spending plans

Based on a November 7-10 telephone survey of 1,039 adults nationally, Gallup says Americans will be trimming their holiday spending.

U.S. consumers now estimate they will spend $704 on Christmas gifts this season, down from their $786 average prediction in October. Americans’ latest estimate is also significantly below the $770 they forecasted [sic] at this time last year — a particularly worrisome sign for retailers.

Only one in four consumers (26 percent) say they’ll spend at least $1,000 on gifts this year, down from 30 percent last year, while

  • 21 percent plan to spend $500 to $999, same as 2012.
  • 16 percent plan to spend $250 to $499, up 1 percent from last year.
  • 19 percent plan to spend $100 to $249, no change.
  • 4 percent plan to spend less than $100, a 1percent increase.
  • 8 percent plan to spend nothing, up 2 percent.
  • 6 percent (1 percent more than last year) aren’t sure.

Polarization?

While the middle of the bell curve is essentially unchanged, trimming is taking place at both ends, with 4 percent of the high rollers cutting back, along with more consumers at the low end.

But crosstabs by income instead of intent show it isn’t just the high rollers.

Adults living in upper- and middle-income households have scaled back their Christmas gift-buying plans this year, with the average estimated total spending of those making $75,000 or more down $87, similar to the $80 decrease among those earning between $30,000 and $74,999.

It’s the economy, stupid

“Americans have had several momentous economic events to digest and react to these past two months,” Gallup notes, “including budgetary chaos in Washington, administrative turmoil related to the Affordable Care Act, and a relatively weak jobs report in September…” So it’s no wonder “Americans are now feeling more restrained about holiday shopping…”

So if, as Gallup predicts, “What looked to be a relatively solid holiday season shaping up for retailers now runs the risk of being a less than merry one,” you can thank (or blame) the economy.

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