Generational Index, Holiday Gift-Giving Study: Americans Watching Wallets

December 5, 2007

This article is included in these additional categories:

Boomers & Older | Household Income | Retail & E-Commerce | Youth & Gen X

Most Americans plan to cut back or freeze holiday spending, though many will give homemade presents and make charitable donations, according to the GfK Roper Consulting annual holiday shopping outlook and new index that measures generational attitudes.

On average, Americans will spend $662 on their holiday spree, and the average gift list for both men and women includes 16 people, according to the survey. Among other findings:

  • 33% of shoppers plan to spend less during this holiday season than they did last year.
  • Among the remaining two-thirds, more than half (52%) say they’ll dish out the same amount of dollars as in 2006, and just 15% (consisting mostly of higher-income households), anticipate an increase in their spending.
  • There is, however, a contingent of individuals (13%) who do not plan to spend any money on holiday gifts: 4% say they prefer to give money directly, 8% say they won’t give gifts, 1% say they will make all their gifts.

Crafty and Caring…

  • Though few Americans exclusively choose the handmade-gift route, homemade gifts will make it on to many Americans’ gift-giving lists:
    • Half (50%) plan to get crafty with at least some of their holiday presents.
    • Two-thirds (66%) either “completely” or “somewhat” agree they would rather receive something handmade than a present purchased from a retailer.
  • Almost one-fourth (22%) plan to include charitable donations on behalf of a friend or loved one in their holiday budget.

Generational Index

GfK Roper also released its first ever “Holiday Spirit” generational index, which is based on the holiday shopping outlook and uncovers generational attitudes toward shopping, identifying those who “take it personally” and those who “take the shortcuts”:


“Although the overall impression is that older adults are more in tune with the holiday giving spirit, younger people come to the fore in specific areas,” explained Diane Crispell, executive editor of GfK Roper Consulting’s Roper Reports.

“The holiday season is often a juggling act for many as Americans balance their desire to express how they feel about loved ones with the end-of-year time crunch and uncertain economic future. Retailers should take note and tailor their offerings to match the shopping style of each generation.”

Top Gift-Giving Categories

The Holiday Shopping Outlook also identifies how consumers plan to spend their holiday dollars:

  • Apparel/shoes reign supreme with 78% planning to give gifts in this category, closely followed by the 74% who will wrap up toys and games.
  • Gift cards land in third (64%), followed by books, music and movies (69%).
  • Next are housewares or home products (62%); personal products (62%); jewelry and accessories (59%).
  • Thos are followed by TV or computer video games (52%); fragrances (51%); specialty foods/beverages (50%).
  • Personal electronics (41%); home electronics (37%); personal appliances (31%); and event, concert or travel tickets (25%) round out the list.
  • Top categories for those who plan to buy gifts online include music and movies (34%), books (33%) and toys or games (28%).

About the GfK Roper “Holiday Spirit” Generational Index: The data are weighted to the online panel sample of 1,013 American adults (ages 18 and older) surveyed on October 9-11, 2007. The index compares the average of several attitudinal dimensions with that of the total online population. For the purposes of this index, the generations are defined as Matures (ages 60 and up), Boomers (ages 40-59), Gen X (ages 25-39) and Gen Y (ages 18-24).

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