U.S. households are expected to spend $71.3 billion on holiday gifts this year, a 7.7 percent increase over 2012, due to a modest increase in holiday budgets and the addition of approximately a million households to the economy.
A survey of nearly 1,800 consumers by American Express Publishing and Harrison Group found that on average, each household is expected to spend $670 on gifts, a 6.9 percent increase over last year's forecast.
The biggest increase in spending will come from the so-called "core affluent" group, with between $150,000 and $450,000 in discretionary income. They are forecast to fork over approximately $12 billion for gifts this year, up 32.7 percent from a year ago.
Overall, the wealthiest 10 percent of respondents, with discretionary incomes above $100,000, are expected to spend $20.7 billion, 8 percent more than a year ago. Households in the top 1 percent, with incomes above $450,000, are predicted to spend the most, at $3,414 per household. But that estimate is down 3.3 percent from spending forecasts a year ago.
Gift cards to retailers and restaurants top the list of planned purchases among the wealthy this holiday season. Other popular gifts include clothing, toys, books, jewelry and fragrances. The wealthy also say they are looking to give gifts of "lasting, enduring value." A little more than a third plan to spend on travel this year.
While the forecast is upbeat, actual holiday spending could be curtailed by the government shutdown in October and the upcoming debt ceiling debate, Dr. Jim Taylor, vice chairman of Harrison Group, said in a statement. Shoppers, especially wealthy ones, are more cautious since the recession, he added. "They are resourceful, independent, fiscally prudent and prepared to button their wallet pockets when they see risks to their financial well-being."
Are you spending more or less this holiday season than you did last year?
Keep up with your wealth and mortgages and follow me on Twitter.
Get more news, money-saving tips and expert advice by signing up for a free Bankrate newsletter.