The holiday season can be the catalyst for all sorts of activities, including: giving more to charity, spending quality time with family and friends, participating in religious activities and hosting dinner parties. But one of the most common things people do around the holiday season is shop for gifts.
Whatever the reason—from buying presents to stocking up on food for a holiday feast—Americans shopped to
the tune of nearly $692 billion in sales during November and December of last year, a 5.5 percent increase from 2016, according to the National Retail Federation.
With that in mind, Discover’s annual holiday shopping survey explores Americans’ expected spending habits for this upcoming holiday season.
The survey found that 80 percent of consumers plan to spend as much or more this holiday season than they did last year. Among those who expect to spend more, the leading factors include: more people to shop for (38 percent), higher income (35 percent), higher consumer confidence (27 percent) and a stronger economy (23 percent).
When asked how they plan to pay for holiday gifts, 38 percent of consumers say they will use credit cards most often, followed by 24 percent who plan to use debit cards to pay for most of their gifts, and 20 percent who will primarily use cash.
Among those who plan to use credit cards for most of their holiday purchases, 54 percent say earning rewards is the driving factor, up from 42 percent last year, followed by 25 percent who cite convenience and 13 percent who cite the ability to track spending. Only 6 percent of consumers say a lack of available cash is the reason they opt to use credit cards over other forms of payment while holiday shopping.
“The holidays are the busiest shopping season of the year and our goal is to make it as simple and seamless as possible for our cardmembers to earn rewards every time they use their Discover card,” said Laks Vasudevan, Discover’s vice president of card programs, strategy and marketing. “Rewards are a major driver for our cardmembers, which is why we help maximize their earning potential during the holidays by aligning our 5% cashback program with popular seasonal categories like Amazon.com and wholesale clubs.”
The survey also found that the majority of Americans, 55 percent, plan to use a mobile device to shop for holiday gifts this year. Younger generations are leading the way as 80 percent of Gen Z and 73 percent of Millennials plan to shop using their mobile phone or tablet, followed by 62 percent of Gen X and 41 percent of Baby Boomers.
While concern over identity theft is down by 7 percent year over year, 55 percent of consumers still say they are
very or moderately concerned about identity theft or fraud during the holidays. The vast majority of survey respondents, 90 percent, say they take some measure to protect themselves from identity theft or fraud, including 62 percent who say they monitor their financial statements, 41 percent who monitor their credit reports and 39 percent who use a credit card with built-in security features.
“As consumers embrace new digital technologies while holiday shopping, such as smart speakers and wearable devices, Discover aims to provide peace of mind to its cardmembers by offering a number of free security features on all of our cards, like monitoring every Discover card purchase every day, and offering Social Security number and new account alerts that cardmembers can sign up for,” adds Vasudevan.
View Discover’s infographic for more survey details and results.