All-America Economic Survey

This year, Santa is a cyber shopper, with Amazon tops on his list

All-America Survey: Consumers plan to spend 4.4% more this holiday
All-America Survey: Consumers plan to spend 4.4% more this holiday

Santa might be trading in his reindeer for bulls this year.

CNBC's All-America Survey shows Americans plan to spend $702 this holiday season, or 4.4 percent more than what they told us they planned to spend last year. It's also above the 3.6 percent growth rate the National Retail Federation is forecasting for holiday sales.

Retailers can thank the men, the middle class and the middle age for spending more.

Men say they will spend 15 percent more this year than what they told us they would spend in 2015. They also are fulfilling a stereotype that they wait until last minute to start their holiday shopping, with 37 percent of men say they haven't started buying holiday gifts yet, compared with just over a quarter of women who say the same.

Americans with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 plan to spend 28 percent more than last year, while U.S. consumers between 50 and 64 years old plan to spend more than a third more than what they told us they would spend a year ago.

CNBC asked for consumers' top two places to shop out of eight different types of retail formats this holiday season, and online is the number one destination at 40 percent. Not so surprising given the reports of record online sales that some retailers have disclosed, but that's the highest level this category has eve achieved in CNBC All-America Economic Survey history, a slight uptick from the last two years.

Big box stores like Wal-Mart, Best Buy or Target stay firmly in second place for a third of Americans for the holidays.

But department stores like Macy's, fall to the number four spot, reaching a new low on our survey. Locally-owned, non-chain stores edged department stores out of the number three spot this year.

Amazon nation

Beyond just the holiday season, 41 percent of Americans say they shop online "a lot" or a "fair amount." That's the highest in survey history, jumping nearly 20 percentage points in the last two years.

So more Americans are choosing to shop online than ever before, and Amazon is king of the e-commerce jungle.

According to CNBC's All-America Economic Survey, when it comes to searching for products and prices, among the most hard core, ardent online shoppers, Amazon is searched 71 percent of the time.

When you broaden it out to all online shoppers, more than half say they are searching Amazon "always" or "most of the time." That's a big 7-percentage point jump from last year's survey.

But, that doesn't mean Amazon always wins the sale.

Of those Americans that shop online, 29 percent actually buy from Amazon "always" or "most of the time." That's does not sound as impressive when compared to the 56 percent of Americans that say they search Amazon "always" or "a fair amount" of the time when online shopping, but huge when you compare it to the overall average.

According to Adobe, the conversion rate from website visits, or the percent of shoppers visiting a website that actually buy something, has averaged about 2.7 percent since Nov. 1, flat with last year's rate during the same period.

Amazon does not reveal much about the demographic of its shoppers, but CNBC survey data shows Americans with higher incomes and higher levels of education search Amazon the most.

Sixty-four percent of those making more than $100,0000 a year, search Amazon "always" or "most of the time." The most frequent Amazon shoppers also are more likely to have a college or graduate level education.