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Survey finds 64% of residents will cut holiday spending

Nearly two-thirds of residents have said they will be spending less cash this Christmas due to the economic downturn, according to a recent poll.

A Mindmaps survey showed that 64 percent of people would be cutting back on how much they spent this holiday.

While 34 percent of people surveyed said they would be spending the same amount or more money this year.

In addition, more than 70 percent of those aged between 18 and 34 quizzed said they would be cost cutting during the holiday and 68 percent of seniors also said they would be spending less.

The poll also showed that 32 percent of women were not actively trying to spend less, while 37 percent of men were not cost-conscious.

A.S. Coopers has seen this trend in people buying less gifts to save money or buying more inexpensive presents.

But according to General Manager Kathy Rowntree business was still doing “very nicely” this year.

She said people were buying more “practical gifts” like clothing, scarves, hats and handbags and said people had taken advantage of the fact that items were sold at US retail prices.

“For instance our men's store is all at US retail prices, so it is at the consumer's advantage. They save on tax and duty. That has certainly been a plus.”

Marks and Spencer has seen a significant uplift since last year.

General Manager Paul Dean said: “This is probably our best Christmas season in two years.

“We have seen a significant uplift over last year's business. Despite the cold weather business is still buoyant this week.

“I think it might well be Marks and Spencer's specifically, in that we probably have the right product at the right time.

“I think that has a lot to do with the strength of the Marks and Spencer brand in Bermuda and customer loyalty to the brand.”

He said they changed the Christmas layout and presentation each year and have a particularly “festive” presentation this year. In addition they also keep prices competitive with other stores on the Island.

At this time of year sales are driven by their food products, Mr Dean said, adding that ladies', men's and children's clothing sections were also faring well.

According to Paula Clarke, the chief executive officer of Gibbons Company, the department store has noticed that customers have been more price conscious this year.

This has continued into the holiday season, said Ms Clarke, adding: “We are not surprised by this and bought merchandise with the customers sentiment in mind. “Customers are being very practical and because of the cold weather, we are selling a lot of sweaters for men, women and children, cozy sleepwear, robes and slippers, jackets, coats and boots.

“In the new Gibbons Home Store we are selling lots of blankets, throws, cozy flannel sheets sets, comforters, duvets and rugs.

“In our house wares in the basement of our main store, seasonal Christmas home products, bake ware and cookware have been selling well since Thanksgiving. For personal or corporate gifts, our gifts cards are always a hit because our customers can choose the exact amount they want to spend,” she added.

Gibbons has weekly and daily specials and ran 'price comparison' advertisements both this month and last to compare local prices at the store versus overseas.

Ms Clarke said: “The savings struck home to many of our customers who had not had time to calculate the expense and had relied on the old perception that everything is more expensive in Bermuda.”

With Christmas three days away, shoppers in Hamilton braved the weather to beat the rush yesterday.

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Published December 23, 2010 at 1:00 am (Updated December 23, 2010 at 7:18 am)

Survey finds 64% of residents will cut holiday spending

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