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Consumers Plan to Look for Deals, Spend on Selves This Holiday Season

shopping-carts-ecommerce-11072802 Credit: Dreamstime.com

Don’t tell this year's holiday shoppers it is better to give than to receive.  According to research by the Retail Federation (NRF), holiday shopping is expected to increase 2.8 percent to $456.6 billion during the months of November and December, with 60 percent of respondents saying they will be buying gifts for themselves.  They'll also be doing a lot of shopping from their mobile devices.

"In 2009, it was all about personal and practical and last year consumers wanted to treat their loved ones to something special — this year, it's a little bit of both," said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director at BIGresearch, in a statement. "Limited budgets and a desire to make the most out of gift-giving will drive consumers to shop at a variety of retailers while also thinking outside the box for great gift ideas."

Unique does not, however, translate into expensive. Sixty-three percent of shoppers say price will be the most important factor in making purchases this year. The NRF's 2011 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey conducted by BIGresearch, a consumer intelligence firm specializing in the analysis of retail and financial services, also found that holiday shoppers will utilize sales and discounts and spend an average of $704.18 on gifts and merchandise during the holiday season, down from last year's average of $718.98.  Despite these savings, the average person still plans on spending an average of $403.26 on gifts for family and $112.68 on gifts for friends, co-workers and pets.

"When it comes to retail growth this holiday season , slow and steady wins the race – and the same is true for shoppers, who are meticulously calculating the best ways to stretch their dollar," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and chief executive officer, in a statement.

An increase in the use of smartphones and tablet computers is a large driving force in the search for holiday deals.  According to the research, 52.6 percent of smartphone owners and 70.5 percent of tablet owners will use their products to research or purchase items during this holiday season. Overall, 46.7 percent of respondents stated they would be shopping online for holiday gifts.

Retailers are taking notice of consumers' desire for great deals and making sure they have something to offer.

"Knowing their customers are more focused than ever on value, retailers will entice shoppers with promotions that go beyond discounts, whether they’re promoting free gifts with purchase, an extended warranty, or stellar customer service," said Shay.

"Retailers are optimistic that a combination of strong promotions and lean inventory levels will help them address consumer caution this holiday season," said Shay. "While businesses remain concerned over the viability of the economic recovery, there is no doubt that the retail industry is in a better position this year to handle consumer uncertainty than it was in 2008 and 2009."