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Twin Cities shoppers to spend $850 celebrating Christmas this year

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Twin Cities shoppers are planning to be generous once again with their giving this holiday season, expecting to spend $850 on holiday celebrations this December.

According to the St. Thomas Holiday Sentiment Survey, this is down $18 on 2014, but still the second highest amount in 14 years of the study.

Some 18 percent of shoppers surveyed said they plan on spending more this year, 59 percent spending the same, with the rest planning to reduce their spending.

It's a far cry for the depressed days of the recession, which saw families tighten their wallets, particularly in 2009 when their total Christmas spending was estimated at $637.

"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," Dr. Dave Brennan, of St. Thomas' Opus College of Business. "We also can say the responses are substantially more optimistic than those recorded six or seven years ago, in the depth of the recession."

In total, metro area households will spend $1.14 billion on Christmas, down slightly from last year's $1.15 billion.

Where will they spend it?

You would think that $1.14 billion of spending will have Twin Cities businesses rubbing their hands together with Scrooge-like glee, but they won't get as big a cut of this year's spending as in previous years.

The survey found shoppers are expecting to do 38.5 percent of their holiday spending online, up 6 percent on last year, with 39.1 percent spent in malls, which is 4 percent lower than last year.

Of the online spending, 43 percent will go to "Internet only" websites such as Amazon, up 10 percent last year, with 40 percent going to store and Internet chains like Target – which is up 4 percent.

There is less positive news for independent and "non mall" stores, with people saying they will spend 19 percent of their money in those kind of stores this year, compared to 32 percent in 2002.

There's positive news for Target, with the Minneapolis-based company the most popular retailer named by shoppers when they were asked to list two stores and two websites where they planned to shop. Richfield-based Best Buy was fourth.

As for malls, Rosedale Center is once again expected to be the No. 1 destination, ahead of the Mall of America, Eden Prairie, Southdale and Ridgedale.

What will they spend it on?

It may be unimaginative, but Twin Cities shoppers intend to let their loved ones decide themselves what gifts they would like to receive – with gift certificates and cash the top two gift choices.

Third most popular is a book (which was down in seventh last year), followed by clothing/accessories and entertainment.

Falling down the rankings this year are computers, consumer electronics and video games, with computers in particular less likely to be on shopping lists, dropping from sixth last year to 12th this year.

Dr. Sandra Rathod, one of the report's authors, said this is because there's currently "nothing exciting going on in the world of electronics."

"We haven’t detected any must-have gift this year," co-author Jonathan Seltzer said. "The closest thing might be a drone, but those are expensive and consumers are still waiting to learn more about how they will be regulated. While we see them in the news, they probably won’t be given as all that many holiday gifts."

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