Americans to buy fewer holiday gifts, spend less: poll

NEW YORK Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:17am EST

Shoppers carry their Black Friday purchases as they leave Macy's in New York November 26, 2010. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Shoppers carry their Black Friday purchases as they leave Macy's in New York November 26, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly half of Americans will be buying fewer gifts this holiday season and many will be making home-made presents or donating money to charity, according to a new poll.

With the number of unemployed hovering over 9 percent and the economy still in the doldrums, Americans are reconsidering how much they will spend and on whom they will spend it.

Thirty five percent of people questioned in the survey said they were giving fewer gifts because they had less money this year and only 10 percent planned to spend more.

In addition to cutting back, 71 percent of Americans said it was important to set agreed spending limits for gifts between family and friends.

But 35 percent of the 1,000 people questioned in the nationwide survey for The Responsibility Project by Liberty Mutual insurance said they have paid more than they could afford on gifts.

"The most surprising finding was the emphasis on charity. People think that they would rather have people donate to charity than purchase a gift for them," said Kelly Holland, vice president/research director at Ketchum, the public relations and marketing company that conducted the survey.

Eighty one percent of adults said they appreciate when someone makes a donation to charity instead of a giving a gift, and 74 percent said they would volunteer their time as a gift if others regarded it as responsible giving.

Instead of buying socks, ties, sweaters or other gifts, 33 percent of the people intended to give home-made gifts and 21 percent planned to volunteer their time.

"More than half of people will have some sort of alternative gift-giving," Holland explained.

Most people also thought there was nothing wrong with re-gifting -- giving presents they had received to others.

Family and friends are not the only recipients of gifts. Fifty-seven percent of American will buy a present for co-workers, 42 percent will give something to their boss and 37 percent planned to buy a little something for their pastor, priest or rabbi.

And even though they might not be getting a present, 55 percent of people intended to tip their teachers, while 41 percent planned to do the same for their babysitters, gardeners, housekeepers, hair stylist and mail carrier. But only 23 percent said they would tip their pet sitter.

Although there may be fewer gifts under the Christmas tree, Americans have no intentions of cutting back on sending greeting cards. Even in the electronic age 86 six percent planned to send their cards through the mail, while 22 percent said they would email their greetings and 15 percent planned to use social networks like Facebook or Twitter.

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