That doesn't seem to be the case. Though sales are upbeat this year, credit cards are playing a smaller role in purchases, according to survey results released Monday by Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The poll showed that more than half of U.S. adults -- 56% -- aren't using their credit cards at all to make holiday purchases this year. Another 26% said they're using credit cards to buy some gifts, while only 18% said they're either charging most or all of their presents.
The poll results show that income and age play a role in determining whether credit cards are used for gift purchases, Marist said. Among gift-givers who earn less than $50,000 annually, 66% said they don't plan to use credit cards for any holiday gifts, while just less than half -- 47% -- of those who earn $50,000 or more say the same.
Younger Americans are more likely to leave their plastic in their wallets, the Marist poll found, with 70% of shoppers aged 18 to 29 saying they aren't using credit cards when buying their holiday gifts. The result compares with 57% of shoppers aged 30 to 44; 56% of those 45 to 59; and 48% of those 60 and older.
Significant Shifts Since 2007
The result seems to contradict another finding in the survey: More people are making purchases online -- and credit cards are the easiest way to shop on the Internet. Marist pollsters found that 42% of shoppers are buying some of their gifts online, while 11% are purchasing all or most of them electronically. The remainder aren't using the Web at all for their holiday shopping.
The survey further showed that a slight majority of Americans -- 51% -- expect to spend about the same amount as they did last year on gifts, while 40% are shelling out less and just 9% are spending more. Not surprisingly, the poll found those who earn more than $50,000 a year are more likely to spend the same as last year than those who earn less than that amount -- 58% versus 44%.
Among other findings, Marist said that Americans aged 18 to 29 (23%) are more likely to spend more this year than 30- to 44-year-olds (7%); 45- to 59-year-olds (4%), and those aged 60 and older (6%). Further, Marist said, women (43%) are more likely than men (37%) to spend less.