The majority of consumers' increased wallet share is expected to go toward buying gifts for others, as self-gifting—the idea of shoppers picking up additional items for themselves while they're purchasing presents for family and friends—is expected to decline from an average $134.77 in 2013, to $126.68.
It's the second year in a row the "one for you, one for me" mentality has taken a hit amid the stagnant economic recovery. The number of people who plan to buy nongift items either for themselves or others was relatively flat, near 57 percent.
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"Overall, consumers feel better about where they stand compared to a year ago, and as such could find themselves stretching their dollars," said Pam Goodfellow of Prosper Insights & Analytics, the firm that conducted the study. "Retailers, however, should still expect to see high demand for sales, coupons and other promotions as shoppers focus on 'what's in it for them.'"
Self-purchases are typically a key component driving healthy holiday sales. In conjunction with its holiday forecast last month, Deloitte's Alison Paul said the firm's projected 4 percent to 4.5 percent sales growth this season factored in a boost in these sorts of impulse purchases.
NRF spokeswoman Kathy Grannis said that while the trade association was a little surprised by the expected drop in self-gifting, the trend tends to be bigger when the economy is bad, because people spend more time looking for low prices for items they need, but have delayed buying.
"When confidence improves, consumers are a lot less reliant on those deep discounts to shop for themselves," she said.
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Overall, 4 in 10 respondents said the state of the economy would impact their holiday spending—a decline of nearly 20 percent from 2014, and the lowest percentage since the group started asking the question in 2009.
NRF's survey polled 7,547 consumers from Oct.1 to Oct. 7, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.2 percentage points.
Earlier this month, the group predicted overall holiday sales will increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion.