American Optimism Triumphs over Economic Pessimism

Most Americans Plan Same or Bigger Holiday Spending As Last Year; Men and Women Differ on the Pace of the Recovery

ENCINO, Calif. (November 17, 2010) – uSamp (, one of the world’s fastest growing online sample companies, has released the findings of its first survey of American attitudes, opinions and behaviors — taking the economic temperature of consumers as they head into the biggest spending season of the year: the December holidays.

According to uSamp’s 2010 Holiday Outlook survey, although nearly three quarters of Americans believe that economic hard times will last for a while or even worsen, an even larger number expect the December holidays to be a happy time this year — whether or not things are going well for them and their families.

In uSamp’s online survey of 700 Americans representing a cross-section of the adult population, 72 percent voiced their belief that the economic distress is going to last a while (58 percent) or get worse (14 percent). By comparison, less than a quarter of the population (22 percent) believe that things will improve soon, and just six percent think recessionary times have ended.

Still, when asked, “Do you expect the holidays to be a happy time this year?,” a resounding majority of respondents (78 percent) answered affirmatively: 40 percent said the reason is that things are going well for them and their families, while 38 percent expect a happy holiday season despite the fact that they and their loved ones are encountering difficult times. Only 21 percent of the population expects the holidays not to be a happy time this year: of these, 12 percent say it’s because things are not going well for them and their families, and nine percent have a gloomy expectation despite the fact that things are going well personally.

Gender clearly matters: American men have a somewhat more positive outlook than American women, as 26 percent of male respondents reported a belief that recessionary times will be over soon, compared to only 18 percent of female respondents.

Similarly, 62 percent of women respondents think the economic downturn will last for a while, compared to 53 percent of the male population.

The survey draws on the uSamp/DMS River Sample® methodology – an online recruitment technology for random sampling of fresh, replicable and balanced survey respondents from a broad array of sources.

What a Difference a Year Makes – Or Does It?

According to uSamp’s 2010 Holiday Outlook survey, Americans found this year to be worse financially than 2009 — but they’re evenly split on whether 2011 will be better or worse than 2010.

When asked, “As you think about the holidays and your personal situation financially, how do you see 2010 compared to 2009?,” two-thirds of all respondents (67 percent) found 2010 to be equal to or worse than 2009: 27 percent said 2010 was worse than 2009, 15 percent said it was much worse, and 25 percent said it was about the same. By comparison, a third of all survey respondents (33 percent) found 2010 to be a better financial year than 2009: 21 percent said it was somewhat better, and 12 percent reported it was much better.

The scales shift a bit from the negative toward neutrality when survey respondents predict their financial situation for 2011: the population is evenly divided about whether 2011 will be better or worse for them financially, compared to 2010. Half of all respondents (50 percent) expect 2011 to be better than 2010 for their personal financial situation: 33 percent expect it to be somewhat better than 2010, and 17 percent think it will be much better. The other half of the population (50 percent) foresees 2011 as the same or worse than 2010: 28 percent expects it to be about the same, 16 percent thinks it will be somewhat worse, and six percent envisions a much worse year on a personal financial level.

Making a List, Checking it Twice

Consumers’ shopping plans confirm the path toward optimism, as more than half of all survey respondents (54 percent) indicate plans to spend the same or more than last year for the holidays: 41 percent say they are likely to spend about the same as last year, and another 13 percent note plans to spend more than they did last year. Among respondents, 37 percent plan to spend less, and nine percent are unsure of their spending plans.

Perhaps not surprising given different levels of optimism based on gender, holiday spending plans differ between men and women. Among female respondents, 42 percent plan to spend less than last year, compared to just 32 percent of male respondents. Another 37 percent of women plan to spend about the same as last year, contrasted with 45 percent of male respondents.

Retailers, take note: Only 16 percent plan to do most of their shopping on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving which is often the biggest shopping day of the year. A majority of survey respondents (58 percent) plan to do most of their holiday shopping after Black Friday, with another 26 percent reporting that their shopping will mostly be completed before Black Friday.

The trend toward value shopping remains stronger than ever, as fully 70 percent of all survey respondents plan to do their shopping at warehouse or discount stores (36 percent) or online (34 percent). By comparison, 18 percent plan to make their holiday purchases at a mall, just four percent will shop at independent shops and boutiques, and seven percent will choose other options.

Gift cards are the top choice for gift giving this year, according to the survey, with 32 percent of respondents naming them as their most likely gift purchase. Clothing (16 percent), toys and books (16 percent), electronics and video games (15 percent) and jewelry (2 percent) round out the most likely purchases, along with 20 percent of respondents planning to give other types of gifts.

uSamp’s 2010 Holiday Outlook survey was conducted among 700 U.S. residents between Oct. 29 and Nov. 2, 2010 using the uSamp/DMS River Sample® methodology and resulting in a 3.7 percent margin of error. For a full copy of the report, which includes data by gender, age and region, email [email protected].

About uSamp™

uSamp (, formerly United Sample Inc., is one of the world’s fastest growing technology and online sample companies, providing global survey panelists and an innovative sampling platform for use in market research. Founded in 2008, uSamp acquired DMS Insights in June 2010 from AOL and now has 145 team members worldwide and approximately 4.1 million global market research panelists. The company’s web-based panel platform is transforming the management and delivery of online panel for market researchers, offering unprecedented access to online panelists. uSamp’s deep well of proprietary technologies includes SampleMarket™, PanelNet™, PanelShield™, Opinion Place® River and real-time Panel Book Search — cutting-edge solutions for accessing, branding, sampling and managing panels. uSamp is based in Los Angeles, with offices in Dallas, London, New Delhi and Trumbull, CT.