American consumers open their wallets for the holidays

American consumers are estimated to have spent more than $600 billion on gifts and decorations for the 2013 holiday season.

Each year in November, several research groups, such as the American Research Group and the Retail Research Association, survey millions of Americans about their holiday spending habits. The data collected in these surveys provide insight into what retailers should expect during the holiday season. This year’s estimate shows a 3.9 percent spending increase from the 2012 holiday season.

Original predictions by consumer groups calculated the average person would spend approximately $760 on gifts when the first reports surfaced in October. Surveys conducted by the Gallup poll Nov. 7 through Nov. 10 quickly lowered this estimated amount to $708 per person.

Despite the lowered average, 1 in 4 Americans interviewed stated they intended to spend at least $1,000 on presents alone.

The Average Expense List

Americans interviewed were also asked specifically what they intended to spend their money on through the months of November and December. The average American consumer listed the following averages for spending habits during the holidays:

•Money spent on gifts totaled an average of $550 per person
•Food and candy came in second at $100
•Decorations, including outdoor lights, reached $52
•Greeting cards made the list with an average of $29
•Flowers came in last averaging just $19

When it came to expected gift giving this season, the average person estimated they would spend more than $420 on family, friends and coworkers.

The average parent planned to spend approximately $230 dollars per child in the home.
Game companies profited tremendously this season with more than 374,000 PlayStation 4 consoles and 306,000 Xbox One systems sold by Dec. 14.

On Dec. 26, Amazon reported the peak of their sales for the PlayStation 4, seeing 1,000 consoles per minute ordered by holiday shoppers.

Final numbers are being calculated to determine how close the predictions for holiday sales came to the actual total. Hopes are high from retailers that this year will have finally shown a recovery from the previous several years’ economic slump.

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