Fragile economy aside, Jason Haynes is planning on spending more on holiday shopping this year than in past years.
“Since I am spending a little more this year because I have a girlfriend, I have to be even more frugal than I have been in the past,” said Haynes, who’s visiting Naples from Baytown, Texas.
Haynes — who was shopping at Best Buy in Naples on Tuesday night — plans on spending about $600 on gifts this holiday season and is being judicious about holiday shopping by looking around for the good deals.
“I’m just looking for sales,” said Haynes, who’s planning on spending $150 to $200 more this year on gifts. “That’s what I’m after. So yeah, whatever they can give me as far as a bargain goes, two for one, freebies and things like that. I’m looking for those kinds of deals.”
Like Haynes, many holiday shoppers are making prudent purchases this season regardless of how much they plan on spending. On the other side of the coin, many retailers are closely watching the consumers’ every move and cautiously stocking their inventory to avoid a surplus of products sitting on their shelves and racks.
Although Haynes started doing his holiday shopping two weeks ago, he said he might wait until the last minute to buy some gifts in case retailers decide to slash prices and offer better sales in order to get rid of their inventory.
“I’ve been looking around,” he said. “I’m not just going out and impulse buying or anything like that.” Haynes is not the only one holding out for good deals.
A survey conducted on Dec. 5 and 6 by Wall Street firm UBS and Charleston, S.C.-based market research firm America’s Research Group Ltd. found that out of those consumers who are not shopping, 95 percent said they will wait to Dec. 24 to get more items on sale.
“More shoppers are waiting for better deals and stores just aren’t giving them big enough discounts,” said C. Britt Beemer, chief executive officer and founder of ARG, in a press release. Beemer said that consumers are holding out for discounts of 60 to 70 percent on holiday gifts.
The National Retail Federation reported in a press release that November retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales have increased 1.3 percent since October and 1.8 percent year-over-year.
“Unlike last year, when the economic downturn caught everyone off-guard, retailers were able to plan ahead this holiday season with an eagle eye on low inventory and aggressive discounts,” said Rosalind Wells, the National Retail Federation’s chief economist.
Danielle Farley and her mother, Norma Lester — who were shopping at Target on Airport-Pulling Road Tuesday night — have noticed the retailers cutbacks on inventory this holiday season.
“I’ve also noticed this year that none of the merchants have near the selection or merchandise that they had last year,” Lester said. “They’ve only got like a fourth of the demand, so there’s a lot more scrambling to not only find the bargain, but to find the product.”
The mother and daughter said they have always been prudent holiday shoppers, but this year they are planning on spending significantly less on holiday gifts.
“I just think like everybody, I’m watching every dollar that I spend and budgeting,” said Farley, who plans on spending less this holiday season. “Just not knowing what the economy is going to do, I want to make sure we save as much money as we can.”
For the first time ever, Farley set a budget for herself on how much she wants to spend on her two sons, who are 12 and 9 years old. She plans to spend $200 to $300 less on gifts for her children this year than she has in previous years.
“That’s what we have been doing tonight is going around to the stores to see what’s the best sale and where you can save” money, Farley said. “It’s a different holiday season, and it feels different than any holiday season that I have had in my life.”
In addition, Lester said that she is spending less money on candy and other miscellaneous holiday goods.
“I’m cutting back on the junk and spending less of my money on trimmings,” she said.
According to NRF’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, U.S. consumers planned to spend an average of 3.2 percent less on holiday-related shopping this year. This year, consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 compared to last year’s average of $705.01.
Amy Leitch, who was shopping at Best Buy on Tuesday night, said she is planning to spend $500 less on holiday gifts this year because of the unstable economy and because her children are grown up.
We’re “just tightening up, spending less, making smarter decisions and doing a lot of gift cards so you don’t waste money on clothes and things that people don’t want,” Leitch said.
E-mail Sarah Donovan at email@example.com.