* 18 pct already finished shopping - Reuters/Ipsos poll
* 28 pct have done no holiday buying yet
* 20 pct plan to spend less overall
By Jessica Wohl
Dec 12 Most Americans are nowhere close to
having their holiday shopping done, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll
shows, raising hope there could be a big boost in sales during
the last two weeks before Christmas.
The survey results could provide solace for retailers in an
environment where Americans' view of the economy and their
finances took a turn for the worse in early December.
Fifty-eight percent of respondents in the survey said they
had done about half or less of their holiday shopping so far.
Twenty-eight percent said they still had not started and 16
percent had completed less than a quarter of it, the poll found.
Only 18 percent said they had completed their shopping,
which suggests that stores will be busy in the final two
weekends before Christmas.
"One thing is for sure, consumers procrastinate every year
and they wait until the very last week and even the few last
days to go shopping," said Jharonne Martis, director of consumer
research for Thomson Reuters.
The final weekend before Christmas, including Saturday, Dec.
22, "is going to be the pivotal sales weekend."
The final weekend takes on extra importance this year as
Christmas falls on a Tuesday, instead of the Sunday it fell on
last year. An extra two days between Thanksgiving and Christmas
is also expected to boost sales in the final stretch of the
November-December holiday season.
Shoppers are keeping an eye on their budgets.
Only 14 percent of respondents plan to spend more this year
than in 2011, while 55 percent will spend the same and 20
percent spend less.
But that does not mean they will actually spend less.
"Expectations and what happens are really two different
things," Martis said. In general, shoppers expect to spend less,
and then spend more "every year, without failure."
While Black Friday and even Thanksgiving were busy this
year, some of the biggest shopping days are still to come,
including the two Saturdays before Christmas.
Sales at stores open at least a year, or same-store sales,
are expected to be particularly strong for discount chains and
department stores this month, according to Martis.
Discount retailers that release monthly data, such as Target
Corp and Costco Wholesale Corp, are expected to
post a 5 percent rise in same-store sales, up from 4.3 percent
growth in December 2011, Martis said. For department stores,
including Macy's Inc and Nordstrom Inc, a gain of
4.5 percent is forecast after a 4.2 percent rise last year.
Three percent growth in same-store sales is considered good,
according to Martis. Same-store sales at apparel chains should
rise just 2.3 percent versus 4 percent growth last December.
The findings are from an Ipsos poll conducted for Thomson
Reuters from Dec. 8 to Dec. 11, with 1,330 American adults
Results are within the poll's credibility intervals, a tool
used to account for statistical variation in Internet-based
polling. The credibility interval was plus or minus 3.1
The poll is the latest in a series that Ipsos will conduct
during the holiday season.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago. Editing by Andre Grenon)