Americans planning to spend slightly more on holiday gifts than in 2020: Gallup

Americans are expected to spend an average of $886 on holiday shopping this year, a slight increase from last year and a bump from 2019, when the average was just above $800, according to the latest Gallup poll released Tuesday.

Despite inflation causing the price of many products to soar, the holiday season is expected to be as busy as ever. Retail sales in the U.S. during the season are expected to rise between 3.7 percent and 5.3 percent compared to last year, Gallup found.

"Many factors, most notably inflation and the pandemic, could influence how much consumers spend on gifts this season and where they ultimately shop," Gallup reported. "But as of November, Americans intended to spend a fairly robust amount that should translate into solid holiday sales for the U.S. economy."

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The National Retail Federation is also expecting a record holiday season. The organization is forecasting an 8.5 percent to 10.5 percent increase in holiday sales compared to 2020, reaching up to $859 billion.

Inflation has reached a 30-year high this year, and supply chain disruptions, including backlogs at ports in California, are leading to sky-high prices. The consumer price index, a measure of average consumer spending for all goods, is predicted to increase to 7 percent by the end 2021, according to estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis based on Bureau of Labor data.

Because of concerns with shipping delays, Americans plan to shop early, with one survey by McKinsey & Company showing 40 percent of holiday shoppers plan to start early this year. With some shelves running empty in stores, 62 percent of Americans have been unable to find at least one item they were looking for, McKinsey's survey reported.

However, the Gallup survey found that a majority of respondents, 61 percent, had not started their holiday shopping by the start of the survey Nov. 1-16, with 33 percent saying their shopping was underway and 4 percent saying they had finished. 

The Gallup survey of 815 adults was conducted via landlines and cellphones with a margin of error of 4 percentage points.