A new report by Harrison Group market research firm, which conducted an online poll of a representative cross-section of 1,300 adults and 1,100 teens in the US on holiday gift giving plans, predicts a mixed holiday retail season.
The survey projects that $169.1 billion will be spent on gifts 2.5% less than last year.
Affluent households (over $75,000 in income) are projected to rise by 3.1%, to almost $82 billion; this top 30% of households will spend nearly as much on gifts as the remaining 70%.
Teens are also holding up their end of the consumption bargain; plan to spend 2.4% more on gifts this year, for a total of $4 billion.
Doug Harrison, President and CEO of Harrison Group said "America, overall, seems to be experiencing an emotional recession a withdrawal of enthusiasm and a pervasive sense of dread that is increasing the value of 'practical' gifting."
"For budget-strapped middle-income families, this will be less an 'iPod Holiday season,' and more an 'iNeed' Holiday.' Consumers will be on the lookout for gifts that express affection while providing basic necessities," explained Dr. Jim Taylor, Vice Chairman of Harrison Group.
"Consumers at the high end of the market appear to be unaffected by economic uncertainty and will spend with gusto. A rising tide of affluence and deepening family connections are producing interest in high-impact, high- quality gifts.
Look for heavy spending on extraordinary quality and sublime luxury, from fashion to designer technology and event tickets to jewelry," added Dr. Taylor
"Teen shopping will be driven by continued income growth (working teens have nearly $600 per month in discretionary income) and increases in the number of 'gift-exchange' relationships. Teens will be exchanging small to substantial gifts game systems, clothing, music and toys designed to communicate depth of feeling and connection through brands."
"Given that the country is in this peculiar emotional recession, holiday cheer will be very welcome this year. Families under financial pressure may well find relief and holiday cheer in the simple pleasures of family and friends," said Dr. Taylor.