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100% of Women Say They Will Give Gifts This Holiday Season, While 12 Percent of Men Will Sit Out the Peak Shopping Season EntirelyCharitable Giving Up This Year Compared to Last, According to American Express Spending & Saving Tracker
NEW YORK,  November 10, 2010 -- 

The average American will spend $710 on holiday gifts this year with that figure nearly doubling to $1,384 among those who earn $100,000 or more per year, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Women will particularly power the holiday shopping season with 100 percent of those surveyed planning to hit the stores; to the contrary, 12 percent of men have no holiday shopping plans. Finally, both male and female consumers’ intentions to “give back” continues to make a comeback – increasing from 63 percent last year to 67 percent this year.

This month’s American Express Spending & Saving Tracker surveyed consumers about their holiday shopping plans this year.  The research sample of 2,001 adults included the general U.S. population, as well as two subgroups – the affluent and young professionals.

While more than half of consumers (51%) will wrap up holiday shopping at least one week before Christmas, five percent anticipate shopping up to Christmas Eve.  Also, almost half (43%) of shoppers will pick up a little something for themselves while shopping for others – and this trend is significantly higher  among young professionals (63%).  One-fifth (20%) of consumers say their most expensive gift purchase will fall in the electronics and gadgets category with an average cost of $316. 

Charitable Giving Up From Last Year
Two-thirds (67%) of consumers will make charitable contributions this year, up from 63 percent last year.  Eighty-percent of those earning more than $100,000 annually plan to make a charitable contribution.  Most categories saw a lift in intentions to give back:

  • Donating money to an organization (41% versus 36% in 2009)
  • Purchasing gift or grocery items for the needy (31% for both years)
  • Volunteering (22% versus 18% in 2009)

“Retailers and non-profits should be encouraged by the results of this survey,” said Pamela Codispoti, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Card Products, American Express.  “The vast majority of consumers not only plan to shop for others, but many will splurge a bit on themselves and donate dollars in order to ‘do good,’ especially if they’ve ‘done well’.”

Popular Gift List Items
Gift Cards remain the most popular item consumers will give this holiday season (53%).  Other popular items on gift lists include:

  • Clothing/accessories (50%)
  • Toys and games (43%)
  • Music (29%)
  • Electronics/Gadgets (34%)
  • Books or magazines (31%)
  • Cash (26%)

Creative Budgeting
Consumers will fund their holiday expenditures in a variety of ways.  Two creative cost cutting strategies consumers will employ are using rewards points (13%) and unused gift cards they received in the past (12%).  The majority of consumers will pay using money they have (64% cash/check) or plan to repay immediately (32%) thereafter.

Most consumers will look for ways to stretch their holiday dollars (84%), particularly women (90%) compared to men (77%).  The most popular ways they will do so are:

Savings Strategy



Shop for clearance or sale merchandise



Clipping coupons



Buying only for people on their list






About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker
The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of consumers aged 18+. The research sample of 2,001 adults surveyed the general U.S. population, as well as two sub-groups – the affluent and young professionals. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between October 18 and October 22, 2010. Overall, the results have a margin of error of +/- 2.2 (or 4.3 among affluents and young professionals) percentage points at the 95 percent level of confidence. For access to previous American Express Spending & Saving Tracker results, please visit 

About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at and connect with us on, and



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