SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Greg Ness, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente, Xenia von Wedel

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Women's Holiday Shopping Secrets Revealed: Women Shopping Early -- Even Year-Round -- for Holiday Gifts and Finding Creative Ways to Cut Back, According to Women & Co./Real Simple Survey

Majority of women surveyed buy presents for at least 10 people and spend more than $700 on holiday expenses, with 1 out of 3 spending $1,000 or more

NEW YORK, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Women & Co., Citi's personal finance resource for women, and Real Simple, the leading women's lifestyle brand, today released results from their 2012 Women's Holiday Shopping Report, providing an in-depth look at how women across the U.S. are approaching holiday shopping this year. According to the national survey of 750 women, most are willing to spend significantly on what matters to them during the holidays, with the majority spending at least $700 on holiday expenses, and 1 out of 3 spending $1,000 or more. At the same time, they are finding creative ways to cut back on expenses – by exchanging homemade gifts, bargain-hunting at several retailers, using coupons, and shopping year-round.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121114/CG12619-INFO)

Is Black Friday for slackers?

Only 11 percent of women surveyed say they start shopping on Black Friday. Instead, the majority of women are shopping early – with 41 percent starting their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving and 22 percent shopping all year long for the holidays.

Holiday budget: What they're spending on

The majority of women admit to spending at least $700 on holiday expenses – between gifts (almost half – 48 percent – spend at least $500); travel (56 percent spend at least $100); food/entertainment (51 percent spend at least $100); holiday cards (73 percent spend $50 or less); charity (57 percent spend at least $50); and more. 

Where they're cutting back

While the majority (60 percent) say they have no regrets when it comes to holiday spending, forty percent called themselves bargain-hunters who visit several retailers and clip coupons to get the best price.  They are also looking for creative ways to prioritize and save. 

  • When considering what aspect of holiday expenses they would prefer to cut back on the most, respondents say they would rather cut back on gift expenses than costs associated with cooking and entertaining – and 42 percent wish they could stop exchanging gifts with certain people.
  • Another 52 percent of women have started exchanging handmade gifts to cut down on costs, with baked goods being the most popular homemade present.

"The results of this survey paint a very interesting picture of women's priorities during the holidays," said Linda Descano, CFA®, President and CEO of Citi's Women & Co and Managing Director and Head of Digital Partnerships, Content and Social for North America Marketing at Citi. "Women are willing to spend money – without complaints or regrets – to ensure that their families have a happy holiday, but we're finding creative ways to spend wisely, prioritize, and be smart about the way we shop." 

"With our increasingly hectic world, we've long known that women are focusing on what matters in their lives.  They are simplifying in some areas to find time for what's most important," says Kristin van Ogtrop, Managing Editor of Real Simple.  "The holiday season is no exception. They are shopping early, making gifts at home, giving to charity, and putting time with family over exchanging gifts with everyone." 

Who they're spending on

The majority of respondents say they buy gifts for at least 10 people, with 1 of 4 purchasing gifts for more than 15 people during the holiday season.

  • Of those who buy presents for their spouse, partner, children, parents, and in-laws, the majority spend at least $100 each on their gifts.
  • The majority of those who buy gifts for siblings, nieces, nephews, and other relatives spend $50 or less per person.
  • Of those who shop for friends, co-workers, pets, teachers, and child care providers, the majority spend less than $25 each.

The season of giving: Majority of women donate $50 or more

For most women, holiday prep is not solely focused on buying gifts and holiday entertainment – 57 percent spend at least $50 or more on charity during the holidays. Thirteen percent say they spend $300 or more on charitable holiday donations.

Holiday budgeting: Is it worth the debt?

The survey also explored women's attitudes towards budgeting for the holidays and their willingness to go into debt to have a happy holiday. 

  • The majority of women (93 percent) have some sort of holiday spending budget.
  • 43 percent think it is okay to accumulate some credit card debt in order to have a happy holiday, yet the majority plan to pay it off in less than one month.

Visit Women & Co. at www.womenandco.com for money-saving holiday shopping tips and tricks, and RealSimple.com for ideas for homemade gifts and checklists to simplify the process. For detailed results from the 2012 Holiday Spending Report, visit the Women & Co. blog and RealSimple.com.

The online resources available at Women & Co. are one part of a comprehensive suite of online and digital services provided by Citi to help shoppers simplify and save on holiday expenses.  With Citi Price Rewind, a unique price protection program, shoppers hunting for a lower price can rest easier when they make purchases on their eligible Citi credit card.  After a Citi cardmember purchases and registers an eligible item, Price Rewind will search hundreds of retailers' sites for 30 days after the purchase to find a lower price.  If a price is at least $25 less than what the cardmember paid, Citi will refund the difference in price – up to $250 per item. Also new this holiday season, Citi ThankYou® Rewards members now have another place where they can use their ThankYou Points: Amazon.com, where eligible Citi ThankYou members can use their points to purchase millions of products at Amazon.com.

For more information on Citi Price Rewind, including a full description of coverage, eligible categories and Citi credit cards, visit www.citi.com/pricerewind.  For more information about Citi ThankYou Rewards, please visit www.thankyou.com.

Citi, Citi and Arc Design, Citibank and Women and Co. are registered service marks of Citigroup Inc.

About Women & Co.

Women & Co., a service of Citi, is the go-to personal finance source for women.  By providing financial content, commentary and community, Women & Co.'s mission is to get women thinking and talking about personal finance. Founded in 2000, Women & Co. is one of the longest running personal finance websites dedicated to helping women strengthen their financial futures.  Twitter: @WomenandCo

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://new.citi.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi

About Real Simple

Real Simple (www.realsimple.com) launched in March 2000 to provide inspiring ideas and practical solutions to help today's busy woman navigate her everyday life. Throughout its 12 year history, Real Simple has been a leader in understanding the modern woman.  The brand creates a community in which consumers can share their ideas and learn about women like themselves. With a monthly print magazine, robust website, tablet editions, mobile apps, licensed products, books, special issues, and a strong social media presence, Real Simple enjoys a total monthly audience of 15 million. Real Simple is published by the Time Inc. Lifestyle Group, a division of Time Inc., the largest magazine media company in the U.S.

SOURCE Women & Co.

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