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Discover: Holiday budgets rise slightly in 2011

By , CardRatings contributor
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Most Americans expect to add the equivalent of a box of chocolates, a fancy bar of soap, or a coffee gift set to their holiday shopping lists this year, according to new research from Discover Card. The editors of Cosmopolitan recommend all three of those gifts for shoppers who need a stocking stuffer for less than $18. That's how much more the typical American household intends to spend this 2011 holiday season: $748 compared to the 2010 average of $730.

For this year's Discover Holiday Shopping Survey, researchers spoke with 500 men and 500 women who plan the holiday shopping for their households. Even though survey respondents planned to spend more money this year, they have higher expectations for how far they'll stretch their dollars. Daily deal websites, like Groupon and LivingSocial, factor into the shopping plans of more than half the consumers surveyed. Fifty-five percent of respondents said they planned to take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, especially when their online orders include free shipping.

Credit card reward usage doubling from last year

Growing awareness of credit card rewards and cash-back rebates will help about one in 20 Americans boost this year's gift budget. Five percent of survey respondents told researchers that they intend to use their reward points and statement credits to cover some of their holiday expenses. That figure more than doubles the response rate from Discover's 2010 survey.

In a statement to reporters, Discover vice president Sarah Alter remarked that holiday shoppers have taken the past few years to adapt to economic changes, using sales and incentives to offset changes in their household budgets. Half the consumers in Discover's survey said they planned to spend the same or more than they did last year. Clothing, toys and DVDs topped shoppers' wish lists, with men tending to ask for more electronics than women.

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