Less than one-third of Christmas shoppers surveyed said they used credit cards as their preferred payment method so far this holiday season, according to a new survey by the National Retail Federation.
Nearly four out of ten (39.3 percent) have used their debit or check cards most often. Fewer people have used credit cards as their preferred payment method this year – 30.9 percent, compared to 33.8 percent in 2008. More than one-quarter have used cash, and a mere 3.8 percent have relied on checks.
“As expected, shoppers have shown tremendous restraint in buying gifts with the money they already have, not the money they hope to have,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch, which conducted the survey for the NRF. “Relying less on credit for holiday purchases will help consumers feel more comfortable about their personal finances again and may make them more willing to spend in the future.”
The survey also found that shoppers had completed 46.7 percent of their holiday buying by the second week of December, less than the 47.1 percent had done so by this time last year. This is the lowest percentage since 2004, when shoppers had completed 46.3 percent of their holiday purchases by the same period.
“Retailers know the final lap counts the most and are planning to emphasize promotions and discounts to bring in last-minute shoppers,” said Tracy Mullin, NRF president and CEO.
Nearly 42 million people (19.1 percent) had not even started their shopping as of late last week, the survey found, while 8.6 percent of shoppers have finished. Adults 65 years of age or older have completed the most shopping (50 percent), with adults ages 45-54 having completed the least (44.1 percent).
The NRF continues to forecast that holiday sales will decline 1 percent compared to last year. November retail industry sales, which were released last week, showed a decline of 0.8 percent year-over-year.
The survey polled 9,929 consumers, December 1-9, 2009. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.