As the mega important holiday shopping season begins in earnest, we're noting a rather subtle yet consistent sense of confidence among college students. Hopefully, this sense of confidence and optimism isn't short lived. Black Friday, which at this point, might as well be considered a one-day holiday, was another huge draw for students this year. Nearly seven in ten panelists (68%) surveyed in this month's Insights Immersion reported hitting the malls and stores on Black Friday compared to about 64% last year. This equates to approximately 5.5 million college students nationally. These days of course, we can't leave out Cyber Monday. About one in five panelists (18%) said they shopped online this past Monday, compared to 15% of panelists last year.
It's interesting to note that about a third of panelists who shopped on Black Friday did so without having a particular item in mind they intended to purchase. In some respects, they just wanted to witness all of the excitement. Now, getting back to that whole confidence thing: slightly more than half of all panelists, some 52% said they felt like this holiday season was going to be a good one, in terms of both gifts they expected to receive and the gifts they plan on purchasing for others. Last year, the confidence percentage among participating panelists was 44%, so at least we're moving in a positive direction.
When it comes to planned spending though, we're actually expecting a decrease compared to last year, which we found to be a bit counterintuitive at first glance, but after further analysis, the cause of the difference became quite clear.
A holiday-related shopping trend of note this year among students is the concept of group gift giving. Given the fact that the majority of students live with at least two other roommates, the art of gift giving around the holiday season presents a challenge. Ultimately, there is a desire to purchase something for all close friends and significant others, yet in most cases, their respective checking accounts won't cover the expected costs. Enter group gifting. Instead of purchasing a rather nominal $15 to $20 gift for upwards of 5 close friends, a student instead will contribute between $5 and $10 with a group of five or more students to purchase a single gift for a member of the clique. Think of it as a modified game of Secret Santa where everyone pitches in for one other. This activity is one of the main reasons why total expected spending will be slightly down this year.
When all is said and done, average holiday-related spending among panelists, which is inclusive of gifts for parents, siblings, significant others, friends and gifts for themselves is $531, which is representative of a 7% decrease compared to last year.