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Holiday shopping trends paint a mixed picture

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With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, holiday shopping season is in full effect. Half of New Yorkers say they will spend about the same amount of money as last year on gifts, according to a new survey from Siena College Research Institute. Fifteen percent say they will spend more money this year; 33% less. Nineteen percent plan to spend $1,000 or more on presents for their family and friends, down from 26% in 2017.

Siena Research director Don Levy says more and more of that shopping is being done online.

"Forty percent of New Yorkers now say they're going to do half or all of their shopping online. That's good news for spending overall, but not be good news for our friends in brick-and-mortar retail," Levy said.

When Siena starting asking that question in 2008, Levy says that number was only seven percent.

One surprising finding is that fewer New Yorkers, 68% this year compared to 76% last year, say they will donate to charitable organizations that focus on helping people in need this holiday season. Levy suggests that could come from a growing, and not necessarily accurate, sentiment that there is less need than in past years.

"Perhaps with a more solid economy, with there being virtual full employment, with wages starting to tick up, there might be a belief amongst some New Yorkers that there is simply less need than there was in years past," Levy said.

Thirty-one percent of respondents plan to volunteer their time during the season, down five points from the prior year.

Among the more light-hearted findings in the survey: 31% of New Yorkers say the believe in Santa Claus, 69% of homes with Christmas trees prefer artificial to real; and only one-third, mostly older residents, think fruitcake is delicious.

Sixty-six percent of those surveyed say they are either very excited or somewhat excited about the holiday season. Thirty-four percent are either not very or not at all excited.

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