Rich Americans set to spend more on holiday gifts

Thu Oct 7, 2010 3:23pm EDT
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By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Spending by affluent Americans on holiday gifts is set to grow 4 percent to $23 billion with retail and restaurant gift cards, tickets to an event or a book topping the wish list, a study found on Thursday.

But the survey of households with a discretionary income of more than $100,000 also found nearly 40 percent saying retail service has worsened and 20 percent saying product and service quality has deteriorated.

The boost in holiday gift spending comes from a rise in the number of affluent U.S. families, not an increase in household holiday budgets, which are due to remain flat at about $2,100, the American Express Publishing and Harrison Group poll found.

The "Survey of Affluence and Wealth" found that spending on holiday gifts for extended family and friends, work colleagues, entertaining and decorations was set to fall.

"What brands and retailers really have to focus on are the gifts that people are giving to their spouses, to their daughters, to their sons, that's where the majority of the dollars are going to be spent," said Cara David of American Express Publishing.

"They are looking to buy gifts that have more lasting and enduring value," she said. "There's less of a desire to buy or wear products that show off logos."

Some 86 percent said the United States was still in recession, down from 93 percent at the start of 2010, and 63 percent said the recession will last another year, up from 57 percent a year ago.

U.S. retail sales rose in September for the 13th month in a row and The National Retail Federation has forecast that retailers would see their best Christmas sales in three years.   Continued...