Home > Spotlight Analysis > Polarized Holiday Shopping: Are you Target and Starbucks, or Wal-Mart and Dunkin’ Donuts?
Polarized Holiday Shopping: Are you Target and Starbucks, or Wal-Mart and Dunkin’ Donuts?
Topics: Economy


holiday shoppers

Packed parking lots, long lines, and crowds of customers make shopping one of the most visible hallmarks of the holiday season across the country. This year, Americans who celebrate Christmas plan to purchase gifts totaling an average of $914, according to PRRI’s latest survey, conducted in partnership with Religion News Service.

About 1-in-10 (12 percent) Americans say they’ll spend less than $100 on presents, while nearly half will spend between $100 and $499 (29 percent) or between $500 and $999 (20 percent). A quarter say they’ll spend at least $1,000, including 15 percent who anticipate spending between $1,000 and $1,999 and 10 percent who say they’ll spend more than $2,000. Most Americans say they’re not too stressed about their holiday spending, with 60 percent saying they don’t feel stressed at all, 29 percent saying they feel a little stressed, and just 10 percent say they feel a lot of stress.

But at which stores will folks choose to spend their holiday cash? Well, if they’re planning to stock up on supplies for Christmas Eve dinner at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, chances are they’re Democrats. Recent data compiled by consumer research firm Scarborough finds Republicans are more likely to head to Wal-Mart and Costco, while independent voters tend to pick traditional grocery stores.

This newly released data is the latest in a string of findings confirming people’s shopping habits share some correlation with their political leanings. PRRI’s own 2012 Race, Class and Culture Survey found that when asked whether they’d prefer to shop at Target or Wal-Mart, self-identified liberals are significantly more likely to say they’d choose to shop at Target (55 percent) rather than Wal-Mart (36 percent) when given a choice between the two stores. Conservatives are much less inclined to pick Target (31 percent) over Wal-Mart (56 percent), while moderates are roughly divided, with 44 percent saying they’d choose to shop at Target and 47 percent picking Wal-Mart.

The survey also found tired shoppers are somewhat polarized in choosing where to purchase refreshments. When asked whether they’d rather shop at Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, conservatives and moderates share a similar profile, with exactly half (50 percent) of each group picking Dunkin’ Donuts and roughly 3-in-10 (29 percent of conservatives, 32 percent of moderates) choosing Starbucks. Liberals were both significantly less likely to say they’d pick Dunkin’ Donuts (43 percent) and more likely to choose Starbucks (40 percent) than the other groups.

So where will you shop this holiday season? Perhaps you’d better check your voter registration card to find out…