Twin Cities shoppers are expected to spend more money this holiday season than any since the University of St. Thomas started its annual Holiday Sentiment Survey 13 years ago.
The survey, released Wednesday, found Twin Cities' households will spend $868 on holiday gifts, up $31, or 3.7 percent, from 2013. This year's amount is also $231 higher than the lowest figure found by the annual survey, which was $637 in 2009.
"Finally, we've killed off the recession," said Lorman Lundsten, professor emeritus of marketing at St. Thomas. "For years we thought it was dying when it didn't. This year looks to be back to normal."
The gain in the Twin Cities is slightly below estimates of 4 percent to 4.1 percent increases nationally, which come from forecasts by the National Retail Federation and the International Council of Shopping Centers. St. Thomas researchers attribute that more to sampling differences than to a difference in Twin Cities shoppers' spending habits.
Shoppers plan to spend 43 percent of their budget in area malls and downtowns, 19 percent in free-standing stores, 33 percent on the Internet and 5 percent in catalogs, the survey found.
Free-standing stores and catalogs gained slightly compared with last year's survey, and malls and the Internet declined 1 or 2 percent. Surprisingly, 53 percent of survey respondents said that Amazon charging sales tax wouldn't change their online spending.
Rosedale topped the list of places where locals plan to do most of their shopping, followed by the Mall of America, Ridgedale, Eden Prairie, Maplewood, Riverdale in Coon Rapids and Southdale. The Mall of America led the list last year.
One new mall, Twin Cities Premium Outlets in Eagan, and one venerable specialty mall, the Galleria in Edina, joined the list this year. The outlet mall nabbed the seventh-most-popular destination when shoppers were asked which mall they planned to visit at least once during the holiday season. The Galleria came in at No. 13.
Shoppers are expected to spend their holiday budget on, in order, gift certificates, clothing, travel, toys, computers, books and entertainment with cellphones, electronics, video games, furnishings and jewelry rounding out the list.
The online survey was conducted in late October and early November based on responses from more than 300 participants in the 13 county metro area. It is funded by the University of St. Thomas.