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Auto Club Survey of Southland Shoppers Reveals Most Plan To Cut Holiday Budgets, But Not Gift Recipients

Insurance & Consumer Tips
(LOS ANGELES – Nov. 10, 2009) – Most Southern Californians plan to maintain their holiday gift-giving lists at the same number of people this year despite the economic downturn, but most also plan to cut their gift budgets by seeking out discounts and less expensive presents, according to a new holiday spending poll conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Market Research Department.
The online survey of more than 700 Southern Californians, which included both Auto Club members and non-members, also revealed that more than half of local holiday shoppers plan to spend less than $500 on gifts, and 78 percent plan to spend $1,000 or less.
Also, nearly one-third of those surveyed said that this year they planned to change their usual shopping habits by clipping coupons and/or using a discount program such as AAA Discounts to save money on gifts.
“The effects of the economic downturn are causing Southern Californians to be more careful with their holiday gift shopping budgets by seeking out coupons and discounts such as those available through Auto Club membership,” said Denise Bialek, the Program Manager of AAA Discounts. “The AAA Discounts program has added several new retailers this year that already provide discounted prices, such as the Gap Outlet stores and, allowing members to save even more when gift shopping.”
Popular techniques for saving money this holiday shopping season, according to the holiday spending poll, are:
1)      Finding less expensive gifts (43 percent)
2)      Shopping more at discount stores (38 percent)
3)      Ordering online to take advantage of free shipping for gifts that must be mailed (32 percent)
4)      Doing more research to make sure of getting the best price (32 percent)
5)      Using store coupons and/or obtaining discounts through programs such as AAA Discounts (29 percent)
6)      Buying the same amount for the kids but cutting back on the amount spent on adults (23 percent)
Even though more than half of Southern Californians in the Auto Club survey planned to do at least some holiday shopping online, the poll revealed that shoppers still plan to spend nearly two-thirds of their gift budgets in retail stores.
The most popular holiday shopping destinations for Southern Californians this year, according to the poll, will be discount stores (69 percent), followed by online retailers (52 percent), retail department stores (48 percent), shopping mall stores (46 percent), electronics stores (41 percent), membership stores (36 percent) and home improvement stores (19 percent). Just 10 percent of those surveyed planned to do at least some holiday shopping at a luxury brand or upscale department store.
The most popular items on gift-buyers’ lists this year are apparel and accessories (67 percent), followed by gift cards/certificates (61 percent), toys (46 percent), books (39 percent), DVDs/videos (35 percent), consumer electronics (31 percent), jewelry (30 percent), video games (29 percent), music (29 percent) and computer hardware/software (21 percent).
“With the exception of gift cards, AAA members can take advantage of deep discounts on all the most popular gift categories through AAA Discounts’ participating businesses such as New York & Company, all major Southern California shopping outlets, and online retailers through the AAA Discounts shopping link,, including, jewelers, DELL and,” Bialek said.
More information about Auto Club discounts is available at or at any Auto Club of Southern California branch, where members can get the new Member Savings Guide featuring holiday discounts and special offers.

Media Contacts

Marie Montgomery
(714) 420-0477 (cell)

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The Automobile Club of Southern California is a member club affiliated with the American Automobile Association (AAA) national federation and serves members in the following California counties: Inyo, Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare, and Ventura.