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Trending for the Holidays: Gifting, Re-Gifting and PrimpingAmericans spending on workplace gifts, dining out and looking great for holiday parties

Money & gift cards remain king; 43% say they’ll use them within a month of receipt; 19% on Dec 26.
NEW YORK,  December 13, 2013 -- 

A few weeks into the holiday shopping season, consumers are taking a smart approach to spending, with 66% of holiday shoppers creating a budget and 75% considering shopping last minute (77% in 2012), in part to take advantage of the best deals (45% vs. 37% in 2012) and take time to save enough to cover purchases (20% vs. 27% in 2012), according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Though more than half of Americans (54%) say the economic uncertainty is causing them to watch their budgets, consumers aren’t leaving work colleagues off their list or forgoing a new holiday outfit or haircut, and many Americans (64%) intend to save some budget to give back this year, donating an average of $130 to charity.

“Economic concerns coupled with an aggressive push by retailers earlier in the season created a unique push and pull between shopper and retailers,” said David Rabkin, SVP of U.S. Consumer Lending Products, American Express. “Americans aren’t sacrificing on holiday fun; they’re still giving and spending to look great at their holiday get-togethers, but they are relying more and more on deals and discounts to help them stay within their budgets.”

Holiday Extras from Dining to Primping
Trending up from last year, more Americans are planning to invest in their social lives this season and expect to spend more going out to dinner (16% vs. 11% in 2012), lunch or brunch (8%, vs. 3% in 2012), catching a movie (11% vs. 7% in 2012), and enjoying the local culture at a concert or museum (5% each vs. 1% each in 2012) or the theater (4% vs. 2% in 2012).

Across the board more consumers than in recent years say they will spend a little extra to primp for holiday festivities, treating themselves to:


Any who
Expect to Spend

Any who
expect to spend
this year vs. 2012
(% change reported)


Hair Cut/Styling




New Outfit




New Shoes or Accessories












Spa – Facial, Body Treatment




With holiday parties and family gatherings to attend, 71% plan to purchase hostess gifts this year, up from 66% in 2012. Most plan to spend an average of $37 per gift, on par with last year, with spirits being the top choice for most (44% vs. 39% in 2012) and food to serve at the party a close second (40% vs. 39% in 2012).

Dreaming of a Green Christmas
Cash and gift cards (19%) top wish lists for the third year in a row (20% in 2012 and 2011), with 27% of cash or gift card recipients planning to treat themselves, 22% intending to use the money to pay their bills and 30% expecting to spend it on someone else.

And they won’t wait long. Similar to last year, consumers expect gift cards to immediately burn holes through their pockets, as 43% plan to use them within a month of receipt, and 19% planning to use them the day after Christmas. 2012, more than half of holiday shoppers (56%) expect to hit the stores on December 26.

Regifting is an increasingly acceptable practice; with the vast majority of Americans (73%) agreeing it’s okay to recycle a gift, up from 71% in 2012. While it might be socially acceptable, only 32% admitted to partaking in the practice last year, regifting an average of three gifts.

The Gift of Giving: At Home, Work and Beyond
As Americans check items off their lists, many will struggle the most with finding that special something for a special someone. The closest family members seem to be the hardest to shop for, with holiday shoppers citing their spouse or significant other as the most difficult person to please (28% vs. 25% in 2012), followed by mothers (10% vs. 11% in 2012) and their children (12%, slightly down from 14% in 2012). Gift giving won’t be reserved for family and friends. Topping the office gift list are colleagues (66%), followed by the boss (44%) and assistants (22%). Workers say they will splurge the most on their superiors, perhaps to earn brownie points, spending $70 on average.


% Expected
to Spend


Colleagues or coworkers









Direct Report






Professional Mentor



About the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker
The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,502 adults, including the general U.S. population, as well as an Affluent demographic defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Ebiquity, formerly Echo Research, between November 25 – 27, 2013. The results reported in this release have an overall margin of error of +/- 2.5 (total) and +/- 2.7 (holiday shoppers) at the 95 percent level of confidence.

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

Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card.

About Ebiquity Plc
Ebiquity provides independent data-driven insights to global media, marketing and communications professionals to continuously improve clients' business performance. This includes specialized services in research supporting creative testing, brand/advertising tracking, corporate reputation, brand image, research for public relations and thought leadership, global media/social media content analysis, and communications research. Ebiquity acquired Echo Research in May, 2011 and Echo officially started conducting business under the Ebiquity name on July 1, 2013. Learn more at



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