3 in 5 Americans Say Family Most Important Part of Holidays

December 17, 2010

harris-holiday-look-forward-dec-2010.JPGAlmost three in five Americans (58%) say the one thing they most look forward to with the holidays is spending time with family and friends, according to a new Harris Poll. This dwarfs all other aspects of the holiday season, as only one in 10 say it is holiday dinners and parties (9%) and fewer numbers say they most look forward to finding and giving presents (6%), putting up holiday decorations (5%), watching television specials, hearing holiday songs on the radio (5%) and getting presents (3%).

Older Americans Value Family More, Like Holidays Less

Overall, 9% of Americans do not look forward to the holidays. Examining views on the holidays by age bracket, older Americans are even more likely to look forward to spending time with family and friends (59% of Echo Boomers and 66% of Matures, compared to 55% of both Echo Boomers and Gen X).

Interestingly, much higher percentages of older Americans (14% of Baby Boomers and 10% of Matures) say they don’t look forward to the holidays than younger Americans (6% of Gen X and 5% of Baby Boomers).

Money, Crowds Top Dislikes

harris-holidays-dislike-dec-2010.JPGWhen it comes to what Americans dislike about the holidays, spending too much money (27%) and shopping crowds (24%) are far and away the biggest gripes. Despite having the second-highest rate of not looking forward to the holidays, Matures have a much higher rate of saying they like everything about the holidays (29%, compared to 18% overall) and lower rates of disliking these two factors (18% dislike spending too much and 19% dislike crowds).

Perhaps reflecting they are at an age when many of them have small children, Gen X has the highest rate of disliking spending too much money (31%). Gen X and Baby Boomers tie for the highest rate of disliking crowds (27%).

Gen X Plays with Rudolph

harris-holiday-tv-special-dec-2010.JPGWhile Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is famous for being left out by his peers, he is enthusiastically welcomed by members of Gen X. Thirty-five percent of Gen X rates “Rudolph” as their favorite holiday animated TV special, far higher than its 24% overall rating (still number one across all age groups).

Gen X members, born between 1965 and 1974, spent their childhoods during the peak of the animated holiday TV special. Therefore it is not surprising that Gen X has the lowest rate of not liking any animated holiday specials (13%, compared to 22% overall). Four in 10 Matures (41%) do not like any animated holiday specials.

8 in 10 Consumers Still Holiday Shopping

Perhaps contributing to those pesky crowds, 84% of US consumers say they have not yet wrapped up their holiday shopping, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Survey data indicates holiday shoppers will be most generous with their children this holiday season, planning to spend $341 on average, followed by their spouse/significant other ($189 on average). Interestingly, mothers ($72 on average) will fare better than fathers ($45 on average). In addition, 31% of consumers plan to buy their pet animal a gift, spending $18 on average.

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