Retailers hoping Georgians would increase spending this holiday season are out of luck as 96.7 percent are planning to spend the same or less than a year ago. Only 3.3 percent of Georgians are planning to spend more on gifts this holiday season, according to the latest poll from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates (GCUA).
The survey revealed:
- 70.1 percent plan to use cash this holiday season
- 12.4 percent of respondents plan to pay for most purchases with a credit card, down from 15.9 percent last year
- 57.5 percent report their holiday spending will be at or below $500
- 48.2 percent of respondents plan to spend the same as they did in 2011
- 48.5 percent plan to spend less than they did a year ago
According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales for the holiday season are expected to grow 4.1 percent, still less than the 5.6 percent increase experienced in 2011.
However, growth projections may not reflect an accurate picture for the majority of Americans. A survey conducted by American Express and the Harrison Group found that while the top 10 percent of the population will spend nearly 22 percent more on gifts than they did last year, overall gift giving will be down.
An insider's perspective:
According to Grace Lollar, president and CEO of Richmond Community Federal Credit Union in Gracewood, Georgia, holiday loans have been in high demand for the past several years, and she expects this year to be no different.
"Wages have not risen for most of our membership, but the cost of living has gone up," Lollar said. "Most of our members rely heavily on holiday loans to pay for their purchases."
Lollar believes the trend of scaling back will continue for the majority of people. She advises people seeking to trim their holiday spending to start making a "Santa's list" immediately.
"Write down everyone you will be shopping for and set a dollar amount for each gift. Then do your level best not to exceed those amounts," she added.
Lollar believes people will have a difficult time staying within their budgets due to rising costs of consumer goods. She encourages people to be proactive next year and save a little at a time in a Christmas Club account or other special savings account.
"Even if you save only a minimal amount each paycheck, it will add up over the course of the year," she explains.