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Consumers Ready to Add $100 to Holiday Shopping, Survey Says

Tickers in this article: DFS

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Mid-November is "go" time for millions of U.S. holiday shoppers, and this year that means a more financially aggressive outlook for shoppers.

One study puts a dollar figure on the amount by which Americans will outspend their their holiday budgets last year: about $100.

The survey, from Discover Financial Services (DFS) , says consumers plan to bump up their spending to $838 from $748. Women are especially eager to pump up holiday financial volume, telling Discover they will spend $165 more than they did last year.

That's an encouraging sign for U.S. retailers, who consider the holiday shopping season to be a "make or break" deal for annual revenues. If women, widely considered by retailers to handle the family finances, are budgeting more money for holiday shopping, the near-term financial outlook brightens for merchants.

The Discover survey is also full of other financial "vital signs" from U.S, households as the holidays draw near. Here's a closer look:

  • Budgets are set. Just because Americans plan on spending more over the next six weeks doesn't mean they don't have a financial plan for the holidays. The survey notes 51% of Americans say they have a budget this year and are determined to hold to it.
  • Good deals are the big factor. Forty-two percent of consumers say that of all factors affecting their buying outlook, retailers' sales and promotions are at the top of that list. That beats household spending (27%) and a consumer's job situation (13%) by a wide margin. Clearly, getting good value continues to be a part of the new economic normal for U.S. shoppers.
  • High-end shoppers are on the rise. Last year only 2% of survey respondents said they would spend between $1,000 and $5,000 on holiday spending. But shoppers must really be feeling their oats, as that figure up to 14% in 2012.
  • Bosses aren't the priority. Only 1% of U.S. consumers will spend the highest amount on a co-worker or a boss this holiday. No offense, though -- most of consumers' shopping budgets are geared toward children (42%) and significant others (26%). "Close friends" will get the lion's share of holiday presents from 6% of consumers.
  • Shipping is a big plus. Discover asked survey respondents what the optimal deal would be when shopping online. 79% said free shipping was best, followed by exclusive sales and offers, and coupon codes, which women particularly found favorable. Free shipping was considered a non-negotiable "must have" by holiday shoppers.
  • Consumers are getting fickle. The gift that shows you really care this year is cash, or at least a gift card. Both items topped the "wish lists" of gifts both genders want to see under the tree this year.