With Only Days Until Christmas, People Have Plenty of Shopping Left

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For all the media reports of crowded malls, long lines, and unbridled spending, our latest Consumer Reports poll shows that 25% of us hadn’t yet begun shopping for the holidays as of Dec. 18. The lousy economy is a big reason why. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed blamed their inertia on a lack of money (an excuse cited by only 38% of respondents in 2010).

Other reasons: shoppers feel they still have adequate time to get the job done or plain old procrastination. One in four respondents said they haven’t started shopping for one simple reason: they hate it.

In the fourth installment of our 2011 Holiday Poll, 39% of those surveyed proclaimed their shopping finished by the Monday a week to 10 days before Christmas. Last year, 44% said they were done at that point in time. Those who’ve completed their shopping have spent $673, on average, which is $34 less than they estimated they’d spend in an earlier poll.

A quarter of adults who still have shopping to do plan to hit the malls on Christmas Eve. With time running out, 45% of respondents say they’re most likely to give a gift card to fill the void. Other go-to presents in a pinch: Cash; food or chocolates; alcohol; DVDs and or movies.

Whatever they give, 44% of respondents will spend more than they had planned to when forced shopping for a last-minute gift. As desperation sets in, shoppers are also less inclined to look for bargains. Twenty-five percent of those surveyed don’t give a hoot about scoring a deal at the 11th hour; they simply want to be done shopping and grab whatever they can get their hands on.

Where shoppers choose to shop as clock winds down is as interesting as what they buy. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed shop at a liquor store; 30%, a supermarket; 25%, a drugstore; and 20% seek out a convenience store.

Survey based on telephone interviews of 1,011 adults nationwide between Dec. 15-18.

—Tod Marks

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