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Press release from Business Wire

Consumers Embrace Black Friday “Creep;” More Shoppers Strike at Midnight

<p class='bwalignc'> <i>Average Consumer to Spend $848 on Holiday Gifts this Year</i> </p>

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Consumers Embrace Black Friday “Creep;” More Shoppers Strike at Midnight14:07 EST Tuesday, November 20, 2012 NEW YORK (Business Wire) -- More Americans will wake up early, or stay up late, to catch Black Friday deals this year. The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker found that 29% expect to make their first purchase between midnight and 3 a.m., up significantly from 18% in 2011 who said they'd do the same. “Early” is the theme to this year's Holiday shopping season, as 43% of consumers started their holiday gift buying before Halloween, up from 35% in 2011. Shoppers plan to spend $848 this year on gifts, compared to last year's $831. Those making a list report an average of eight people on the gift roll this year, but those checking it twice are adding a ninth: one-fifth (41%) of consumers admit to buying for themselves when they're out shopping for others. Black Friday Tradition Lives On Black Friday will continue to be a popular shopping day, as 45% plan to take advantage of sales and deals. Overall Holiday spending continues its upward trajectory, with consumers spending an average of $17 more than they did in 2011, and $138 more than in 2010. However, because retailers began offering holiday deals long before Black Friday, consumers are expected to be less reliant on this one day to shop bargains. The average Black Friday shopper will spend $398, about 25% less than last year. In fact, one-fifth of shoppers (20%) expect to spend less than $200 on Black Friday, while last year only twelve percent said the same. “An earlier start to the shopping season coupled with consumers' expectation of better deals and offers could explain the expected dip in average spending on Black Friday,” said Claire Bennett, EVP Loyalty & Membership Benefits. “Retailers are starting their holiday season earlier and earlier, and consumers are welcoming the chance to shop deals well before the Thanksgiving weekend.” Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday Following Black Friday, 67% of consumers say they'll “shop small” on November 24 for Small Business Saturday – a day devoted to patronizing local shops and restaurants -- according to a separate Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey. But there is no rest for the weary when there are deals to be had: more than one-third (39%) will be gearing up for Cyber Monday to go at it again, while one-fourth are prepared to venture out the day after Christmas. Strategies for Saving: Mobile, Social and More Consumers are looking for ways to be resourceful with more than 8 in 10 planning to stretch their holiday shopping dollars. So, how are consumers strategizing to save? Mobile: More consumers are looking to their phones to save compared to last year (32% versus 24%). They're plugging in to browse for gift ideas (18% vs. 13%), compare prices online (17% vs. 12%), use scanning apps for price comparisons (12% vs. 9%) and access deals through mobile apps (10% vs. 7%). Eleven percent plan to make purchases with their phone, up significantly from last year's 6%. Reward Points: More than half (57%) of American consumers belong to credit or debit card loyalty programs, and 27% of consumers are leveraging their rewards points to purchase gifts. Among affluents* 37% expect to use points towards gifts. Social: About one-fourth (23%) will take advantage of online offers via social networking platforms—these consumers plan to take advantage of holiday deals and discounts from social media platforms like Facebook , Groupon, Twitter, Pinterest, and FourSquare. Sales, Coupons and More: Fifty-four percent of consumers intend to shop clearance or sale merchandise, while more than four in ten (43%) prove clipping coupons are still in style, continuing to search the papers and keeping an eye out for store promotions. Trending:#Popular Gifts So where are consumers spending their dollars? Gift cards are topping the gifting list again this season (55%), following by clothing and accessories (48%), toys and games (44%), music (30%), cash (29%) and electronics (29%). About one quarter plan to purchase books or magazines (26%) and perfume and cologne (25%). The American Express Spending & Saving Tracker research was completed online among a random sample of 1,500 adults, including the general U.S. population, an affluent demographic, defined by a minimum annual household income of $100,000. Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between October 17 and 19, 2012. These findings have a margin of error of ± 2.5 percentage points at the 95% level of confidence. About American Express American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/companies/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress. Key links to products and services: charge and credit cards, business credit cards, travel services, gift cards, prepaid cards, merchant services, business travel, and corporate card American ExpressMelanie Backs, 212-640-2164melanie.l.backs@aexp.com