COLONIE – Nearly half of Christmas shoppers will spend $500 or more on gifts this holiday season, according to a new survey by the Siena College Research Institute.
But, just 30 percent of New Yorkers believe in Santa Claus, down a point from last year, while 34 percent are “very excited” for the holiday season, up 8 points from last year. In all, 71 percent say they are either somewhat or very excited about the season, up from 66 percent last year.
In 2009 just 22 percent were “very excited about the season and 64 percent were either somewhat or very excited.
“New Yorkers are a bit more excited about the holiday season this year. Holiday gift budgets have risen slightly and New Yorkers’ collective view of their personal finances is up compared to a year ago,” said SCRI Director Don Leby. “While only 30 percent of residents say that they believe in Santa, most will have a tree in their home and with over 80 percent shopping online, for some, the internet may be replacing the North Pole.”
About 40 percent say with will do at least half their shopping online this year, about the same as last year. In 2008, just 7 percent of New Yorkers did their shopping online.
One in five will spend $1,000 or more while 30 percent of New Yorkers plan to hold their gift spending under $300. While just over half of New Yorkers say they will keep their spending unchanged this year, 17 percent say they will increase their spending this year and 26 percent say they will spend less.
In 2009 and 2010 just 4 percent said they would spend more money while 48 percent and 53 percent, respectively, said they would spend less.
The controversy over holiday greetings kicks up every year, although it doesn’t seem as vehement this year. According to the poll, 51 percent of New Yorkers most often greet others with “Merry Christmas” while 38 percent prefer “Happy Holidays. “Season’s Greetings” placed a distant third with just 6 percent of the people saying they prefer that salutation.
One of the more dicey decisions for any of the households that have a Christmas tree is what kind to get, real or artificial. Of those 72 percent who do have a tree, 65 percent pick the fake tree out of the box rather than a real tree.
Sixty-three percent say they will make some sort of donation this year — either in the form of money, food or gifts — to charitable organization or to the needy this holiday season while 25 percent say they will not. Last year, 68 percent said they would donate and 31 said they would not.
The number of people who say they will donate has steadily decreased since 2007 when 81 percent of those polled said they would donate to charity and just 17 percent said they would not.
Along those same lines, 32 percent said they would volunteer their time to organizations that help people in need while 56 percent say they would not. The number who said they would volunteer has remained steady, fluctuating between 30 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2008 and 2016.
There is an equal number of males and females, 30 percent, who say they believe in Santa Claus while 33 percent of those between 50 and 64 years old say they do and just 28 percent of those 18 to 34 years old have the same type of confidence. More Catholics, 41 percent, say they believe, while just 18 percent believe who are of Jewish faith. More people living in the suburbs, 38 percent, believe in Santa compared to 28 percent in New York City and 28 percent upstate. Thirty-four percent of Latinos believe compared to 30 percent of whites who responded and 23 percent of blacks.
The SCRI holiday spending poll was conducted Nov. 19-22 by random telephone calls to 402 New York adults using a landline and cell phones. The sampling was done by asking for the youngest male in the household. It carries a margin of error of +/- 3.6 percent.