The Sun conducted the following telephone Sundial call-in survey of Baltimore-area readers' holiday shopping plans and other issues affecting the retail industry from Nov. 8 through Nov. 11.
While the sample was as large as those used in many national market surveys, the survey was not a scientific poll. It did not sample the entire population, only Sun readers, and it was, in the terminology used by polling professionals, "self-selecting," meaning that if people holding one point of view are more motivated to call, the findings can be skewed.
Nevertheless, market researchers who were informed of the results said that in several respects the Sun Survey's results closely tracked their own. These are some of the results.
Total started survey: 585
Total completed survey: 563
Have you begun your holiday shopping yet (Nov. 8-11)?
Yes: 339 . . 53.9%
No: 235. . . 40.1%
During the upcoming holiday shopping season do you plan to spend more than last year, about the same as last year or do you
plan to cut back your spending from last year?
Spend more: 34 . . 5.9%
About the same: 177. . 30.7%
Cut back: 361. . . 62.7%
Have you scaled back or are you planning to scale back your holiday gift-giving on a permanent basis?
Yes: 277 . . 48.5%
No: 291. . . 50.9%
Reasons cited for cutting back. (For the 361 who said they cut back; individuals could select more than one reason):
High levels of personal debt: 161 . . 44.3%
Member of family laid off: 101. . . . 27.8%
Family income declined for reasons other
than layoff: 175 . . 48.2%
Concern about possible layoff in the family: 170 46.8%
What effect will the current state of the U.S. economy have on your holiday spending plans?
Big effect: 262 . . 45.7%
Small effect: 196 . . 34.2%
No effect: 111 . . 19.3%
Do you plan to take advantage of lower interest rates to make some big purchases you have been putting off?
Yes: 73 . . . 12.7%
No: 495 . . . 86.5%
How frequently do you shop at discount department stores?
Frequently: 361 . . . 63.2%
Infrequently: 179 . . 31.3%
Not at all: 27. . . . 4.7%
Are you shopping at discount department stores more than last year, about the same as last year or less than last year?
More: 171 . . . 31.4%
Same: 293 . . . 53.8%
Less: 76. . . . 13.9%
Are you now regularly shopping for health and beauty items at discount stores that you formerly purchased at grocery stores?
Yes: 334 . . . 61.5%
No: 206. . . . 37.9%
Are you now regularly shopping for items at discount stores that you formerly purchased at department stores?
Yes: 356 . . . 65.5%
No: 182. . . . 33.5%
In choosing which stores to shop at, which is generally the most important consideration: low prices, large selection or good service?
Price: 244 . . . 43.2%
Selection: 234 . 41.4%
Service: 78. . . 13.8%
Which is generally the second most important consideration?
Price: 192 . . . 34.1%
Selection: 203 . 36.0%
Service: 162 . . 28.7%
Reasons for cutting back permanently.
(For those who said yes; individuals could select more than one reason):
Holidays too commercialized: 223 . . . 79.6%
Making holidays more of a religious observance: 119 . . 42.5%
Holiday spending was out of hand: 172 . . 61.4%
Income dropped since retirement: 70 . . 25.0%
Children have grown up: 71 . . 25.3%
When do you expect to do the greatest part of your holiday shopping?
Already completed: 107 . . 18.5%
Early Nov. to Thanksgiving: 129 . . 22.3%
Thanksgiving-mid-Dec.: 279 . . . 48.4%
Last days before holiday: 59 . . 10.2%