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Holiday Spending Plans: Online Up, Discount Stores Down

More U.S. adults will shop online for Christmas presents this year.
November 22, 2017

​WASHINGTON – Sixty-five percent of U.S. adults say they are likely to shop online for Christmas gifts this year, up 12 percentage points from four years ago and continuing steady growth in this form of shopping over the past two decades, according to a new Gallup survey. Still, more Americans (72%) say they are likely to shop at department stores this year, more than any of the other four shopping options tested in the survey.

Since 2013, Americans’ intention to shop at discount stores has declined by seven points to 65%, and it is now tied with online shopping. Meanwhile, shopping by the two least-used means—at specialty stores and via mail order catalogs—has held steady. Slightly more than half (54%) currently indicate they will shop at specialty stores, defined as those that sell only one type of item, such as toys, clothes or jewelry. A smaller 22% say they plan to shop by mail order catalog.

Longer term, intentions to Christmas shop online have grown, from 10% indicating they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to do so in 1998 to 65% today. As online shopping intentions have increased 55 points over the past 20 years, intentions to shop in other ways all have decreased between 11 and 15 points.

Although online still trails department stores in the overall percentage of Americans saying they are at least somewhat likely to do their holiday shopping there, more Americans now say they are “very likely” to shop online for Christmas gifts (48%) than say they are “very likely” to shop at department stores (35%). This indicates a greater probability that Americans will follow through on their intentions to shop online than to shop at department stores.