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AP/Carlos Osorio
Stocking stuffers?
BAH HUMBUG

US shoppers are trimming their budgets for the most-requested holiday gift

By Ashley Rodriguez

Americans may be getting out the wrapping paper, scissors, and tape more this holiday season: US shoppers plan to spend less on gift cards for the first time in six years.

Historically, holiday shoppers have devoted greater shares of their budgets to gift cards—easy alternatives to traditional gifts that let recipients choose what they want. But after boosting average holiday spending in the category by about 25% from 2009 to 2014, shoppers are trimming their gift card budgets, the National Retail Federation (NRF) found.

On average, US consumers plan to buy $153.08 worth of gift cards during the 2015 holiday season—11% less than the $172.74 spent last year—with total gift card spending falling to about $25 billion, NRF’s November consumer spending survey shows.

Overall, holiday gift budgets are in line with last year. US shoppers plan to spend $594.80 on gifts, on average, during the 2015 holiday season, ticking down from $595.06 last year, NRF’s October spending report showed.

“Retailers’ early promotions and exclusive offerings have made it easier for consumers to find everything they need without having to consider raiding the gift card rack,” said Matthew Shay,  president and CEO of NRF, in a statement. “That said, there is an interesting disconnect between gift givers and gift recipients this year as gift cards still top millions of Americans’ wish lists.”

As Shay alluded to, gift cards still top most holiday wish lists, NRF’s October report shows. Nearly 60% of consumers celebrating the holidays said they would like to receive a gift card this season, making it the most-requested holiday gift for the ninth year running.