Thankful for family & health, N.C. down on economy, spending

With the approach of Thanksgiving and “Black Friday,” a third of North Carolinians say they plan to spend less money on gifts this holiday season than in previous years with just 20 percent planning to spend more, according to the latest Elon University Poll.

Nearly half of all state residents – 46 percent – say they will spend about the same as shoppers reflect a general pessimism about the economy. Four out of 10 respondents in the most recent poll said they believe the economy will worsen over the next year, compared to only 33 percent who think it will get better.

The live-caller, dual frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 732 North Carolina residents was conducted Nov. 15-18, 2013, and has a margin of error of 3.62 percentage points.

“The holiday shopping season will be shorter than usual because Thanksgiving is happening so late in November,” said Assistant Professor Kenneth Fernandez, director of the Elon University Poll. “This could have an important impact on the profits of many retailers, since about 20 percent of annual retail sales occur during the holiday season.”

What North Carolinians Are Thankful For

Before Christmas arrives, though, North Carolinians will celebrate Thanksgiving. And “getting presents” is not high on the list of what they are most thankful for. Not surprisingly, 47 percent of respondents said they are most thankful for family, followed by 17 percent who listed their health.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Of the 83 percent of respondents who said they plan to shop during the holidays, more plan to shop online on “Cyber Monday” (33 percent), the Monday following Thanksgiving when retailers promote online sales, than to hit the stores on “Black Friday” (26 percent), the day after Thanksgiving nicknamed for the point in the year where retailers have been said to move into the “black” on annual profits.

Eleven percent said they plan to shop on both days. More women (30 percent) than men (21 percent) plan to shop on Black Friday. Cyber Monday shopping will be done equally by men and women.

“Although more respondents said they would shop on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday, most gifts will be purchased in stores,” Fernandez said. “On average, residents plan to do about 30 percent of their shopping online.”

This Season’s Hot Ticket Items

Top on many North Carolinians’ shopping lists are electronics. Seventeen percent of respondents named a video game or video game console when asked what gift “your friends and family seem most excited about this holiday season.” PlayStation/PS4 was mentioned the most, followed closely by Xbox/Xbox One.

Still, the general gloom expressed about the economy may dampen a willingness to crack open wallets this holiday season.

“Most North Carolinians believe the economy will at best stay the same or, more likely, worsen over the next year,” said Assistant Professor Jason Husser, assistant director of the Elon University Poll. “The pessimism is reflected in people saying they will spend less this holiday season.”