More than half of consumers have already started their holiday shopping and nearly a quarter of purchases have already been made, according to the annual survey released this month by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics.

"This is further evidence that the holiday season has grown far beyond the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a release. "Thanksgiving is still a hallmark of the season, and there's billions of dollars in shopping still to come. But many consumers have already been shopping for weeks, and retailers are increasingly adapting to that."

The survey found 56% of consumers asked during the first week of November had already begun their holiday shopping, about the same as the past few years. That was up from 48% who had already started at the same point a decade ago. On average, consumers had completed 24% of their shopping, the highest level in the history of the survey and up from 16% in 2009. Only 4% had finished shopping.

According to another survey, consumers are spending their hard earned dollars at record levels.

The National Retail Federation's annual consumer spending survey states consumers plan to spend an average of $1,047.83 during the holiday shopping season, which includes gifts, food, flowers, decorations and greeting cards. This year's planned spending is up 4% from 2018's record projection of $1,007.

Shoppers between the ages of 35 and 44 plan to spend the most at $1,158.63.

"Consumers are in good financial shape and willing to spend a little more on gifts for the special people in their lives this holiday season," Shay said. "Retailers are fully prepared to meet the needs of holiday shoppers looking for that perfect mix of sales, quality and selection."

Consumers said they will spend nearly $658.55 on gifts for others, $227.26 for items such as food, decorations, flowers and greeting cards and $162.02 on other non-gift purchases this year.

Prosper Insights Executive Vice President of Strategy Phil Rist said younger consumers are helping drive the spending increase this year.

"They're not just spending on their immediate family members, they're also treating their larger circle of co-workers and friends to gifts," he said.

More than half of shoppers between the ages of 25 and 34 (52%) plan to purchase gifts for co-workers, and 82% of those between 18 and 24 plan to purchase gifts for their friends.

For the 13th year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 59% of those surveyed, followed by clothing and accessories at 52%, books/movies/music/video games (35%), electronics (29%), home décor (24%), jewelry (23%), personal care or beauty items (21%), sporting goods (18%) and home improvement items (17%).

To see more the surveys, visit nrf.com.

Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Register; follow him on Twitter @jgreeneRR.

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