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Holiday gift budget drops


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POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Recipient lists won't get smaller, but the overall gift budget to spend on the naughty or nice will shrink, according to a new holiday spending survey by AAA Hawaii.

Among respondents, 41 percent plan to spend less than $500 on gifts, while 73 percent plan to spend $1,000 or less.

Online shopping beat the mall, with 66 percent of respondents choosing the Internet as their favored shopping destination versus 65 planning to hit mall stores. Discount stores, retail department stores and membership stores followed as favored shopping venues.

Rounding out the list, electronics stores, home improvement stores and catalogs.

Twelve percent planned to do at least some shopping at a luxury brand or upscale department store.

“;The effects of the economic downturn are causing consumers to be more careful with their holiday gift shopping budgets by seeking out coupons and discounts such as those available through AAA membership,”; said Denise Bialek, program director of AAA Discounts.

Several organizations offer discounts at retailers and for services.

“;We are pretty much trending with the nation,”; said Carol Pregill, executive director of Retail Merchants of Hawaii. A study for the International Council of Shopping Centers projects average retail spending at $543 with an additional $133 on gift cards.

Spending last holiday season hit a 10-year low, “;and that was a 3.4 percent drop from the previous year,”; she said. The retail season is expected to end the year down an additional percentage point.