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GCUA holiday shopping poll Cash is king
DULUTH, Ga. (11/4/11)--Fifty-one percent of Georgians surveyed plan on spending the same amount this holiday season as last year, and 46.5% say they plan on spending less, according to a poll from Georgia Credit Union Affiliates. And more will be paying cash.

Of those polled, 45.1% reported their holiday shopping budget will be between $100 and $500, making bargain hunting a vital part of holiday shopping, said GCUA (Consider This Nov. 2). Another holiday survey from Accenture found 40% of consumers indicated that having a sale on an item is the most important factor in their buying decision, said GCUA.

In the GCUA poll, more than three out of four respondents said they plan to use cash for their holiday purchases, which may lead consumers to begin shopping later than usual. GCUA noted that some major retailers are reintroducing layaway service for the holidays.

Fewer members are saving in advance for the holidays, according to Sherry Hutchison, executive vice president of HALLCO Community CU, Gainesville, Ga.  This year the credit union has 519 Christmas Club accounts, compared with last year's 536. In dollars, members have saved $469,000 so far and there are still a few weeks before they funds transfer from the club accounts to their savings. That compares with last year's $490,000 total transferred.

Hutchinson said Christmas Club accounts have declined steadily since 2007, and members are withdrawing funds from the accounts before the transfer date to pay for emergency expenses.

Another Georgia credit union, Robins FCU in Warner Robins, noted some reluctance among members to borrow or use credit cards for holiday expenses the past few years.  Robert Dyal, vice president of business services and lending at Robins, noted that many members won't spend as freely this year, but he expects loan demand to be similar to the past two years.

He advised consumers to look ahead to the 2012 holiday season and save early in the year  or save a specific amount from each pay period to deposit into a savings account.  He also suggested opening a 12-month share certificate for holiday purchases. Members can't take their savings out of it until just in time for the holiday spending, he said.


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