Dec. 10 (UPI) -- More than 60 percent of Americans plan to spend more on holiday shopping in 2018 than they did last year, thanks to tax cuts and an overall healthy economy, Edward Jones reports.
Americans are also more focused on paying down debt, with 38 percent listing that as a higher priority than buying Christmas or Hanukkah gifts, the survey by Edward Jones found. And consumers are being more careful than in years past, with 42 percent saying external factors, including trade wars and tariffs with China and rising interest rates, play a role in their shopping budget.
"There were a number of market events in 2018 that prompted investors to potentially reassess their finances," said Scott Thoma, principal and retirement strategist at Edward Jones. "While recent volatility may not have a lasting impact on investors' portfolios, it's encouraging to see they are taking a step back and ensuring they remain on track for their financial goals, and potentially updating their holiday spending budgets accordingly."
The National Retail Federation expects consumers to spend $720.89 billion this holiday season, an increase of more than 4 percent over 2017. The average consumer will spend $1,007 on holiday shopping this year -- mostly on gifts.
The NRF forecasts that clothing and accessories will be among the most popular gifts, purchased by 59 percent of consumers, followed by gift cards at 56 percent, toys at 41 percent and books/music/movies at 40 percent.
This is the first holiday season without Toys R Us, which left an $11 billion void in the toy market when it filed for bankruptcy and shut down earlier this year. Amazon is the top pick among former Toys R Us customers, with 34 percent choosing the online giant, followed closely by Walmart at 31 percent.
To compete with Amazon, Walmart opened the online Toy Lab, an interactive experience that's a digital playground for toys.
Some retailers are still focusing on the in-store experience to create an emotional connection with the item or the brand. FAO Schwarz just reopened some stores in time for the holidays that feature STEM lab, a workshop and floor pianos -- all available for children to play on.