Holiday spending on track to be highest in at least 12 years: CNBC survey

  • The CNBC All-America Economic Survey polled 800 adults nationwide.
  • For the first time in the survey's 12-year history, spending intentions top $900.
  • And 29 percent of Americans said they intend to spend more than $1,000.

Buoyant American attitudes on the economy look set to show up in plentiful, record-setting holiday spending this season.

The CNBC All-America Survey found that average holiday spending intentions will top $900 for the first time in the 12-year history of the poll, eclipsing last year's estimate of $702 by a wide margin.

The survey of 800 Americans nationwide, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, found a surge in the percentage of Americans planning to spend more than $1,000, to 29 percent from 24 percent.

"The holiday spending outlook is stronger than it has been in over decade," said Micah Roberts from Public Opinion Strategies, the Republican pollster for the survey. "People are more comfortable with where the economy is and where it's heading, prompting them to spend money this holiday season and help boost the economy as well." Jay Campbell of Hart Research served as the Democratic pollster.

The survey found that more than 50 percent believe the economy is in good or excellent shape and that half believe it's a good time to invest in stocks, the highest showing for both metrics in the survey.

The spending intentions appear to have been spurred by wealth and politics. Those who believe the stock market will rise show above-average plans to increase their spending. And holiday spending plans by Republicans, which are often larger than Democrats, are far larger this year than last year.

The median spending number of $498 is considerably lower than the average, a sign that the big gains are likely driven by several big spenders, likely the wealthiest. Median spending plans for those with $30,000 or less in income actually show a modest decline from 2016.