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Nearly half of US online adults (45%) plan to spend less money on gifts this holiday season than last because of the state of the economy, and one in five plan to spend significantly less, according to a Harris Interactive survey commissioned by RetailMeNot.com.

Fully 89% of online adults think coupons are a great way to save money, and about a third (35%) of those who will be spending less money on gifts this holiday season will use coupons, the study found.

Among the other shopping strategies for spending less money on holiday gifts, according to online adults who will be spending less money this holiday season:

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  • Some 80% will purchase fewer gifts this year by…
    • Buying gifts for fewer people (46%)
    • Buying a smaller amount of gifts for the same number of people (43%)
    • Or making some gifts instead of purchasing them (22%)
  • 63% will buy less expensive gifts.
  • 44% will shop at discount stores.
  • 37% will shop online, either to find better deals (32%) and/or to save money on gas (24%).
  • 29% will shop early to avoid impulse buys.
  • 19% will shop during Black Friday sales.
  • 12% will wait until the last minute to get more discounts.

Consumers are increasingly turning to the internet to do their shopping: Most online adults (83%) are willing to make online purchases. Of those who make purchases online, the most popular items include books (71%), music (62%) and electronics (55%):

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When heading online to shop, consumers are increasingly web-savvy in the way they look for bargains: 85% of online shoppers use tools or websites to find good deals online. Not surprisingly, 56% of online shoppers use search engines to find bargains; however, they have found other ways to save:

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  • 32% use price-comparison websites.
  • 25% use online-coupon websites.
  • 23% use online advertisements.
  • 12% use bargain-tracking websites.
  • 5% use shopping-themed social networks.

“As economic pressures mount, consumers are becoming more strategic in the way they look for deals and they are using online tools more than ever. Coupon use, in particular, is on the rise and more consumers are realizing tremendous savings with online coupon websites like RetailMeNot.com,” said Guy King, cofounder of online coupon website RetailMeNot.com.

“In addition to empowering consumers with the information they need to save money, online tools are creating new channels for retailers to reach budget-conscious shoppers and drive sales despite the decrease in spending this holiday season.”

About the study: This online shopping survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of RetailMeNot.com September 10-12, 2008 among 2,022 US adults ages 18+, of whom 1,783 shop online. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the online US adult population on the basis of internet usage (hours per week) and connection type.

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