Consumer spending

Survey: Cash, gift cards top holiday wish lists

american expressA survey released by American Express last week showed cash and gift cards topped holiday wish lists for the third consecutive year.

Nineteen percent of Americans listed cash and gift cards at the top of their lists, down from 20 percent in 2011 and 2012. Twenty-seven percent of cash and gift card recipients plan to spend it on themselves, another 22 percent plan to use the funds to pay bills and 30 percent plan to spend the money on someone else.

Many consumers—43 percent—plan to use their gift cards within a month of receipt, and 19 percent plan to use them the day after Christmas. More than 56 percent of shoppers plan to shop after Christmas.

Most shoppers, however, plan to shop on a budget, with 77 percent of shoppers considering shopping last minute—45 percent hope to take advantage of the best prices, and 20 percent plan to use the extra time to save enough to make their purchases.

“Economic concerns coupled with an aggressive push by retailers earlier in the season created a unique push and pull between shopper and retailers,” David Rabkin, the senior vice president of U.S. consumer lending products at American Express, said. “Americans aren’t sacrificing on holiday fun; they’re still giving and spending to look great at their holiday get-togethers, but they are relying more and more on deals and discounts to help them stay within their budgets.”

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