Grads get cheaper, more practical gifts this year

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Bummer, dude. Not only are people spending less on gifts for new college grads, but the gifts they're buying are decidedly practical in nature -- a true sign of these recessionary times.

According to PriceGrabber.com, 36% of Americans plan to give a graduation gift this year. Among these, a whopping 77% said they'll be giving practical gifts like laptops or work clothes that will help the new grad land or settle in at their first job. The remainder plan to give gifts suitable for outside the cubicle: jewelry, video games, non-work clothes and the like. PriceGrabber's research also said over half of graduation gift-givers will be spending less than in previous years.

How much less? The National Retail Federation also conducted a recent grad-gift survey, which showed the average amount spent dropped from $99.79 last year to $88.01 this year. Men tend to be slightly more lavish givers than women, while the most generous age group is the 45 to 54-year-old age bracket, which suggests that new grads' parents are the ones doling out the priciest presents.

The top gift for this survey's respondents? Cold, hard cash. The number of respondents giving cash (59%) rose from last year, while the number giving gift cards (29%) dropped. The NRF theorized that, in these tight times, cash was preferred because grads can more easily pool their resources to buy big-ticket items like furniture and housewares when they move in with roommates.
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