Auto Club Holiday Poll Shows More Spending on Travel, Gifts This Year

Travel, Insurance & Consumer Tips
(LOS ANGELES – Nov. 12, 2010) – Local residents plan to take more trips and spend more on both travel and shopping during the November and December holidays compared to 2009, according to a new poll from the Automobile Club of Southern California.
 
The second annual Winter Holiday Shopping and Travel Poll revealed that local consumers intend to increase their budgets for at least one trip over the Thanksgiving-Christmas holidays, are more likely to go to a gambling destination or a tourism destination on their holiday trips, and are more likely to spend at least $500 on holiday gifts than they were in 2009.
 
Forty-seven percent of more than 500 Southern Californians surveyed said they plan to take at least one holiday trip this year, compared to 43 percent last year, while 37 percent will definitely not travel – a six percent decline from last year’s non-travelers in the survey. When they answered the survey last month, 16 percent were still undecided about taking a holiday getaway compared to 13 percent who were undecided last year.
 
Among those planning to take a trip, 75 percent said they plan to spend at least $500 on the getaway, compared to just 52 percent of travelers in 2009.
 
“While consumers are still feeling the effects of the recession in many areas of discretionary spending, members coming into our branches have been much more willing this year to book formal vacations,” said Pamela Shepherd, the Auto Club’s vice president for branch office operations.
 
The top money-saving methods cited by surveyed Southern Californian travelers for their holiday trips were:
  • Driving rather than flying to their destinations (39 percent vs. 30 percent in 2009)
  • Staying with friends or family instead of in a hotel (35 percent vs. 33 percent in 2009)
  • Using an affinity discount program such as AAA to get cheaper hotel rates (34 percent vs. 25 percent in 2009)
 
During holiday shopping, 53 percent of surveyed Southern Californians said they plan to spend at least $500 on gifts, compared to 47 percent last year. But while consumers indicated a greater willingness to shop at luxury brand stores (19 percent vs. 15 percent in 2009) and department stores (62 percent vs. 58 percent in 2009), they still plan to keep on the lookout for bargains they can receive via affinity programs such as AAA discounts (25 percent vs. 24 percent in 2009).
 
 “We are seeing a shift this year in consumers’ willingness to spend over the holidays – just 33 percent said they plan to change their holiday shopping by purchasing less expensive gifts, compared to 47 percent in 2009,” said Denise Bialek, manager of the Auto Club’s member discounts program. “But people are still very interested in saving money on both travel and shopping when discounts are readily available.”
 
Other changes in shopper and traveler habits compared to last year include:
 
  • Shoppers are more likely to buy video game systems (30 percent vs. 25 percent), jewelry  (29 percent vs. 24 percent), and cards or flowers (22 percent vs. 14 percent) as holiday gifts
 
  • Shoppers are less likely to purchase gifts at discount stores (66 percent vs. 71 percent in 2009)
 
  • More shoppers say they are doing nothing differently to save money on holiday gifts (34 percent vs. 23 percent)
 
  • 33 percent of travelers plan to spend $1,500 or more on their holiday trip this year compared to just 17 percent last year
 
  • Holiday travelers are more likely to include a visit to their family on their trip (65 percent vs. 60 percent)
 
  • More holiday trips will involve sightseeing (42 percent vs. 32 percent)
 
  • More holiday trips will be to a gambling destination (18 percent vs. 13 percent)
The Auto Club’s Winter Holiday Travel and Shopping Poll was taken online by more than 500 Auto Club members between Oct. 4 and Oct. 19. Polled consumers were also surveyed about identity theft, and those results were released Nov. 4.