Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Americans over the past month have increased the amount of money they expect to spend on holiday shopping this year, Gallup said in a survey Wednesday.
According to the survey, respondents said they intend to spend an average of $852 on holiday gifts. The figure is $47 higher than Gallup measured a month ago, but still far less than the $942 average Americans spent on gifts last year.
Gallup said the projected average is $100 higher than it was in 2016 and $58 more than 2018.
"This year's holiday retail sales are likely to rise by an amount similar to the historical average," Gallup wrote.
The survey said it usually finds strong correlations between November spending estimates and actual retail sales in October, which are often affected by changes to the economic and political climates between those months, historically.
More than a third of respondents said they plan to spend at least $1,000 this year; 19% put their anticipated spending in the $500-$1,000 range, about 13% between $250-$500 and 18% between $100-$250. Just 3% said they will spend less than $100.
Gallup said the small hike compared to expectations at this time last year ($846) suggests a weak holiday spending season.
"Sales increased by more than 5% in strong years (such as in 2004 and 2005) and by 2% or less in weak years, including negative sales growth in 2008 and 2009," Gallup wrote.
An accelerating surge in COVID-19 cases nationwide may also ultimately factor into the equation.
"There is also no guarantee that consumers' spending intentions will be sustained over the next month when holiday shopping typically kicks into high gear," Gallup added. "How much Christmas shoppers follow through on their November spending mood could depend on the extent to which the present surge in COVID-19 cases compels renewed lockdowns that crimp household income and in-person retail shopping."
Gallup polled more than 1,000 U.S. adults for the survey, which has a margin of error of 4 points.