17 million expect to shop on Christmas Eve

Consumer Reports News: December 20, 2012 06:08 AM

With the days until Christmas dwindling, two-thirds of celebrants—132 million Americans—still hadn't finished shopping, and 14 percent said they had yet to start, according to Consumer Reports' latest Holiday Poll, fielded Dec. 10-17.

Still others push the limits of procrastination: Nine percent of shoppers—an estimated 17 million people—said they plan to shop in stores on Christmas Eve. Last-minute shoppers, in no position to be picky, are most likely to grab a gift card (the go-to present for 62 percent), give cash (27 percent), or a bottle of wine or liquor (15 percent). Other items likely to be bought in a pinch: lottery tickets and candy. Four percent of respondents said they would hand out an IOU for a present.

Most shoppers seem to be into the spirit of the season: 55 percent of respondents continue to be upbeat or ecstatic about the shopping experience, describing it as "pleasant," "fun," or "wonderful." Half as many characterized holiday shopping as "rushed," "nerve-wracking," or "annoying." To date, shoppers have spent an average of $340.

Some other poll findings:

  • In order to guarantee that last-minute gifts arrive on time, 38 percent of respondents said they would be very or somewhat likely to pay an online retailer a premium for expedited shipping. But you better act fast--Dec. 22 is the FedEx deadline for overnight shipping for delivery by Christmas; it's a day earlier for UPS.

  • If either the clock runs out or shoppers run out of money, service providers (mail carriers and building superintendents, for instance) will be the first crossed off our respondents' gift list, followed by coworkers, the family pet, an extended family member, and the boss. Children, grandchildren, girlfriends, and boyfriends are among the least likely to go without a gift.

  • When it comes to who gives the worst holiday gifts, those surveyed said by a landslide that it was an extended family member. Coworkers, in-laws, and friends were also fingered as lousy gifters.

  • For many, the holidays are as much about emotional riches as those that come wrapped in a box. When asked how much they looked forward to spending time with certain people during the holidays, 88 percent of married respondents' said they very much looked forward to spending time with their spouse or partner. Eighty-six percent of parents said the same about their children, as did 79 percent of grandparents with regard to grandchildren. Holiday quality time was also eagerly anticipated by most of those planning to enjoy the company of the family pet (68 percent), a girlfriend/boyfriend (also 68 percent), and their mother, father, or grandparent (64, 59, and 55 percent, respectively).

Who in their family would those surveyed prefer to avoid during the holidays? Extended family members such as an aunt, uncle, or cousin topped the list. And one in five said they weren't looking forward to spending time with a sibling or in-law at all.

Crowds, packing on the pounds, aggressive parking lot drivers top list of holiday dreads
Despite Black Friday shopping spree, most consumers concerned about holiday spending

—Tod Marks

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