Holiday spending expected to remain high, survey says

St. Thomas researchers say metro shoppersÂ’ holiday spending has plateaued.

Credit: University of St. Thomas's Holiday Sentiment Survey

Metro shoppers will once again spend big this holiday season, with an annual survey predicted a slight dip from last year’s record holiday spending.

The annual Holiday Sentiment Survey from the marketing professors at the University of St. Thomas shows Twin Cities shoppers will spend $850 per household, down just $18 from last year’s $868, the highest amount the survey had predicted since it began in 2002. Holiday spending hasn’t declined in the Twin Cities since the post-recession year of 2009, when metro shoppers planned to spend $637, an all-time low for the survey.

The survey, based off of 307 responses from the 13-county metro area, reflects post-recession optimism is still high, with 18 percent of responders saying they’ll spend more than last year and 22 percent saying they’ll spend less. It paints a different picture than 2009 when just 8 percent of those surveyed said they would spend more and 54 percent planned to spend less.

“We can say that the responses were similar to last year’s survey, which was the most optimistic since we began measuring shopping intent in 2002. We also can say the responses are substantially more optimistic than those recorded six or seven years ago, in the depth of the recession,” said Dave Brennan of the university’s Opus College of Business in a statement.

The researchers, which also include the college’s Sandra Rathod and Jonathan Seltzer, predict metro shoppers will collectively spend about $1.14 billion this season.

Their predicted $18 dip, or 2.1 percent, is lower than national surveys, which are projecting 2-4 percent increases. Deloitte & Touche is predicting a 3.5 to 4 percent increase and Nielsen is predicting a 2 percent uptick in spending.

“While our data tell us that Twin Cities residents are in a shopping mood that is generally comparable to last year, I think we are seeing a plateau,” Brennan said.

The survey also predicts perennial favorites like gift cards, cash, books and clothing will remain on top, while electronics fell toward the bottom of a list of this year’s most popular gifts. The researchers say there aren’t any “must-have” items this year.

As far as where shoppers plan to do their spending, much hasn’t changed from recent years. Roseville’s Rosedale Mall and the Mall of America remain at the top. Though suburban malls dominate the list of popular shopping destinations, downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul are standing their ground toward the bottom.