U.S. Consumers Optimistic About Holidays

Deloitte's most recent survey showed that American consumers were more optimistic about the economy as the holiday shopping season kicks off. The annual holiday survey released on Wednesday showed fears about the recession slowly subsiding, with about 54 percent of the participants expecting the economy to improve in 2010. This compared with just 28 percent responding favorably last year.

The Deloitte survey indicates that more than half of consumers -- about 51 percent of those surveyed -- hope to spend more or the same on the holidays, an improvement from last-year's 41 percent, Deloitte said. Consumers' total anticipated holiday spending at $1,145, a 16 percent increase over last year.

Nongift categories such as socializing away from home, entertaining, nongift clothing and home/holiday furnishings, will be popular, according to Deloitte.

The American consumer will however continue to remain focused on the price-value equation and hunt for bargains.

Two-thirds of those surveyed said they planned to shop differently due to concerns about the economy. While 74 percent of these shoppers said they planned to buy items on sale, a good 57 percent said they will look for lower-priced items.

The survey showed gift cards as the top gift choice -- for the sixth year in a row -- with 64 percent of consumers planning to buy them as presents. Deloitte stated the convenience factor, the ease of purchasing them in so many different venues and getting them to the recipients very easily keeps as the top reasons why gift card remain popular.