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NEW YORK — Americans are delaying their holiday shopping in order to get more bang for their buck, according to new research. A survey of 2,000 adults finds that a whopping 97 percent plan to shop this holiday season, yet nearly half (47%) have yet to start. 

So, what’s the hold-up? It turns out they are playing the long game, keeping an eye out for deals like interest-free promotions and discounts. 

Commissioned by Affirm and conducted by OnePoll, researchers found that of the people who haven’t finished their holiday shopping, eight in 10 are waiting for better bargains. Nearly two in three shoppers (64%) said interest-free promotions that allow them to pay over time with zero late or hidden fees are most helpful this holiday season. Discounts and sales (54%) and “buy now, pay later” (54%) were neck and neck, tied as the next most desired options at checkout. 

“Consumers are more price-conscious than ever this holiday shopping season, and the concept of ‘best value’ has evolved beyond meaning a significant discount,” says Wayne Pommen, Chief Revenue Officer at Affirm, in a statement. “We’ve witnessed this transformation firsthand and seen merchants find interest-free monthly payment options just as effective as 20% discounts. They empower consumers to manage their expenses and cash flow responsibly.”

While consumers are particularly savvy about budget-friendly purchases, they’re not going to be shy about their spending. In fact, 75 percent intend to spend more or the same amount as last year. They’ll do this while prioritizing staying in or under budget (59%), getting great deals (58%), paying over time (57%), and avoiding late or hidden fees (51%).

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Furthermore, over half the poll (53%) will spend the most money on others, rather than themselves — boomers (73%) more so than Gen X (54%). Gen Z and millennials, on the other hand, plan to treat themselves this year – 37 percent said they will spend more on themselves than others this year.

Regardless of who they’re buying for, gift cards (70%) top the list of people’s holiday purchases, followed by entertaining costs (67%), clothes and accessories (66%), travel (65%), food (62%), tech (57%), and decor (40%).

Those who are traveling during the holidays are looking to make more budget-conscious decisions. Nearly two-thirds (65%) will travel on a different day than anticipated because of costs. This number is even higher for millennials – seven in 10 (70%) will do the same. 

Additionally, more than half of Americans will wait for a discount or promotion (61%), choose a layover instead of a nonstop flight (54%), or drive rather than fly (51%) just to save money.

Looking ahead to Americans’ plans in 2024, many plan to start the year off with a big-ticket purchase. Three in five (60%) will make their first major purchase of 2024 before the end of March, with nearly a quarter (24%) planning on making it a vacation. It’s safe to assume these people will be taking that trip before summer, as three in four respondents shared they typically book travel within three months of a trip.

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Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 general population Americans was commissioned by Affirm between Oct. 17 and Oct. 19, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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