Anxious About Holiday Spending? Stretch Out Your Shopping Season

CW57CK Halloween Dummy Dressed as Santa Claus, Wilmington, Vermont

Pumpkins, ghosts and witches are still everywhere, but retailers are already lining their shelves and websites with holiday shopping promotions. That's good news for shoppers, many of whom are willing to spend more on the holidays this year -- if they can find the right deals.

Jaquan Bland, a hospitality and customer service expert living in the Washington, D.C., metro area, and owner of All4Service, says in his house, the level of holiday spending depends entirely on the bargains he and his wife are able to find. "If you order in advance, you may still be able to get things that you won't be able to in the stores or locally," he says.

Bland says he'll rely on promotions like free shipping, loyalty credit cards and rewards programs, and "omni-shopping" -- that is, comparing what's available at their favorite stores, both online and off. "But more than likely, we'll spend more than we did last year, because our little girls want bigger and better every year!" he adds.

Bland's not alone. According to Deloitte's 28th annual survey of holiday spending intentions and trends, released last week, holiday shoppers will spend 9 percent more on gifts this year than last, an average of $421 up from $386 last year. Not surprisingly, 47 percent of shoppers expect to shop online this year. What is a bit of a shocker: Those who shop both online and in stores will spend 76 percent more than shoppers who only patronize brick-and-mortar retailers.

%VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%And while 1 in 9 shoppers plan to get a majority of their shopping done on Black Friday, an ever rising number favor Cyber Monday and the pursuit of online retail bargains. In its annual survey of Cyber Monday trends, the website FatWallet found that more than half of those shopping the Cyber Monday sales said they will spend more this year than last. To get a jump on the sales, many will start shopping the Sunday evening before.

There are a number of reasons why customers are loosening the purse strings this year. Devin Dotson, who works at a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, says he and his partner have dual incomes this year, which could lead to more spending. Kenneth Goglia, in central New Jersey, says he'll most likely be spending "much more" this year than last given the current economic climate. "Markets are up," Goglia says. "Taxes are down and most likely will stay down."

But it's not all rosy. The online couponing site RetailMeNot released a survey that ranked Americans as some of the most anxious people in the world when it comes to holiday spending. Despite this, the survey also found nearly half of the consumers polled will spend the same or more as last year. Rather than cutting their gift budgets, some shoppers appear to be spreading their purchases out over a few months, with some even beginning their holiday shopping in September.

Spreading out your purchases can also cut your total gift bill by allowing you take a measured approach to your purchases -- and graze calmly through the next two months, taking advantage of flash sales, rewards programs, emailed specials, and social media offers as they come. And as always, you can maximize your savings by making the most of rewards programs offered by credit cards, apps, and retail loyalty programs.