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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Spokane-area shoppers mirror a regional tendency toward holiday-spending frugality, research shows

Although retail analysts predict consumers nationwide will spend more on Christmas gifts this year because of job growth and higher wages, a recent study indicates Spokane residents will keep their budgets tight during the holiday shopping season.

The study by WalletHub found Spokane and Spokane Valley residents are expected to spend $533 and $551, respectively, on holiday gifts this year, making cities’ residents among the thriftiest holiday spenders in the state.

Wallethub calculated holiday budgets for 570 U.S. cities using income, age, debt-to-income, monthly income-to-expense and savings-to-monthly expense ratios.

Palo Alto, California, topped WalletHub’s list for residents with the largest average holiday budget at $3,160. Seattle residents are expected to spend $1,456 this year, while those in Kennewick are predicted to spend $555, according to WalletHub.

On a budget, or not

Washington residents are budget-conscious, with about 49% maintaining a strict spending plan for gifts, according to a survey by Washington State University’s Carson College of Business.

“The expectation is people do spend, but they really do desire to be thrifty,” said Joan Giese, clinical associate professor in marketing and international business at WSU. “Eastern Washington residents certainly tend to be a little more practical in their spending, and that’s not unlike what we found in our survey results.”

Spokane resident Bill Carleton said because he’s retired with adult children, he doesn’t need to create a holiday budget. But, he said, when buying gifts for family, it’s better to give them items they can use.

“For Christmas and the holidays, I give something practical and needed,” he said during a break while shopping at Spokane Valley Mall. “Clothing fits into that.”

Area residents Vieyn Davis and Duncan Krop said they shop for gifts earlier in the holiday season to avoid large crowds and the last-minute rush right before Christmas.

Davis said she enjoys buying novelty gifts for loved ones and she doesn’t create a holiday budget.

“We try to spend as little as necessary,” she said.

Spending increase

While Spokane-area residents are practical shoppers, they are spending more than last year.

Spokane residents budgeted $452, and Spokane Valley residents spent $473 on gifts in 2018, according to WalletHub.

Americans are expected to spend from $727 billion to $730 billion during the holiday shopping season that began Nov. 13 and runs through to Christmas Day, according to the National Retail Federation.

The retail organization anticipates holiday sales to grow as much as 4.2% over last year, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday continuing to be among the busier shopping days in 2019, according to its annual holiday survey.

Similar to recent years, clothing and accessories are the top gift category this year, followed by gift cards, toys, books, music, movies and video games, and food and candy, according to the federation.

The trade group estimates U.S. consumers will spend an average of $658 on gifts, $226 on candy, food, decorations and greeting cards, and $162 on “non-gift purchases.”

“Consumers are in good financial shape and willing to spend a little more on gifts for the special people in their lives this holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Retailers are fully prepared to meet the needs of holiday shoppers looking for that perfect mix of sales, quality and selection.”

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