One-third of North Carolinians plan to spend less on gifts this holiday season than last year, a byproduct of consumers’ grim outlook for the economy, according an Elon University poll.
Many consumers don’t expect improvements in the economy next year, the poll results, released Monday, show. Forty percent predict a worse economy while 26 percent said it will be about the same.
Consumers who expect the economy to sour are less likely to make large purchases, Elon officials say.
“The pessimism is reflected in people saying they will spend less this holiday season,” Jason Husser, assistant director of the poll, said in a statement.
North Carolina’s unemployment rate, which is higher than the national average, also has some analysts predicting sales to fall short of expectations, the study says. In October, North Carolina’s rate was 8 percent compared with the national rate of 7.3 percent.
The survey found that 83 percent of participants plan to shop during this holiday season, with 16 percent planning not to. Although 34 percent said they plan to spend less, 20 percent said they will spend more than last year, and 46 percent said they will spend about the same.
With Thanksgiving falling late in November, the holiday shopping season will be shorter than in past years. That could have implications for retailers, as roughly 20 percent of retail sales take place during the holidays, Kenneth Fernandez, director of the poll, said in a statement.
The poll found that 71 percent of consumers will not go shopping on Black Friday, the shopping bonanza that takes place the day after Thanksgiving, while 60 percent said they won’t shop online on Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Among other survey results:
• 84 percent of women said they planned to shop this holiday season compared with 82 percent of men.
• One-third of respondents said they won’t do their holiday shopping online. Six percent of men and 6 percent of women plan to do 90 to 100 percent of their shopping online.
• Video games topped the list of gifts that friends and family are most excited about receiving, according to 17 percent of respondents.
It is the first time Elon has produced a poll on holiday spending, Fernandez, the poll’s director, said. Elon typically conducts surveys on political topics, he said, adding that this year’s shorter holiday shopping season prompted the idea for the poll.
“We thought it would have broad appeal,” he said.
Elon queried 732 North Carolina registered voters 18 and older in telephone surveys between Nov. 15 and 18. The university said the survey has a margin of error of 3.6 percent.
Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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