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Siena Poll Measures New Yorkers’ Holiday Spending Plans

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Less than three weeks before Christmas, a new survey finds New Yorkers are in a spending mood.

New Yorkers are a little more excited about the holidays than last year. Pollster Don Levy says Siena College Research Institute's annual statewide poll of holiday spending plans is the most promising he's ever seen.   "Overall, we are up just a little bit in every single indicator. People are more excited, they say, about the holiday. Almost 75 percent say that they're excited, and when it comes to spending, although they are small changes, 17 percent now say they were going to spend more money than they did last year, and interestingly, that is the highest number we've ever seen on that question dating all the way back to 2007."

Levy says the numbers spell good news for retailers, as nearly half the respondents said they plan to spend $500 or more ...   "...that's similar to last year. 21 percent say that they plan to spend a thousand dollars or more."

Ted Potrikus is president and CEO of the Retail Council of New York State:   "My standard has been to wait until December 26th to predict on how the holiday season is going to go, because you know, you never know. You can you can take all the polls that you want, but that doesn't factor in the weather. It doesn't factor in the emotional quotient that goes along with holiday shopping. It doesn't factor in really any other realities that are out there. Once you hit the stores or get onto that website, it's really a difficult thing to try to apply science to something that's based so much on emotion, which is holiday shopping. So yeah, budgets are real, and people's lists are real, and they stick to them. I think so far this year we've seen that those lists have been pretty generous."

" During this time of the year, 51 percent of New Yorkers most often greet others with 'Merry Christmas' while 38 percent prefer 'Happy Holidays.'" ~ SCRI Poll

Levy notes the survey also found more New Yorkers will be shopping online.   "Eighty-two percent of us are gonna do at least some, and 40 percent of us say that we're gonna do at least half of our shopping online."

When Siena presented the same question in 2008, only 49% of respondents indicated they would shop via the internet. Other takeaways from the poll:   "Every indication points to saying that people feel a little bit better economically, they plan to spend a little bit more. So I think we're going to see those cash registers ring. And I think we're going to see quite a few gifts underneath your tree, which incidentally, New Yorkers prefer artificial to real by almost two to one."

And three-quarters of New Yorkers say they're going to put up a Christmas tree. 

Close to one-third of New Yorkers, 30 percent, say that they believe in Santa Claus.

The holiday poll delved into belief in Santa Claus — 30 percent of New Yorkers are Kris Kringle diehards — a number Levy says has been consistent year after year, and one Santa shares with President Donald Trump.    "Right now if you're gonna compare number to number, they're relatively similar. In New York, the president’s numbers have dipped just slightly below 30 percent, But they have similar numbers at this point."

Belief in Santa is greatest among Catholics, suburban residents and those with children in their household.  "The general mood is not 'happy days are here again,' but rather 'we're happy that the holidays are here and we're gonna open up our pocketbooks a little bit.'"

The SCRI survey of Holiday Spending Plans was conducted November 19-22, 2019 by random telephone calls to 402 New York adults via landline and cell phones and 400 responses drawn from a proprietary panel of New Yorkers. Telephone sampling was initiated by asking for the youngest male in the household. Telephone sampling was conducted via a stratified dual frame probability sample of landline and cell phone telephone numbers (both from ASDE Survey Sampler) from within New York State weighted to reflect known population patterns. Data from the telephone and web samples were blended and statistically adjusted by age, race/ethnicity and gender to ensure representativeness. SCRI reports this data at a 95% confidence level with a margin of error of +/- 3.6 points including the design effects resulting from weighting.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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