With the holiday season quickly approaching, consumers are holding onto their budgets tightly, according to Valpak’s Semi-Annual Consumer Spending Report. The report revealed 20 percent of consumers are spending less this year than last and are becoming more creative when it comes to finding deals.

Valpak, the 44-year direct and digital savings leader, conducted the report in an effort to understand how consumer spending has evolved since last year’s “post-recession” economy.  Shoppers are planning to start their holiday spending earlier this year with 40 percent of consumers beginning their shopping before, and during, the month of October, including searching throughout the year. Eighty four percent of shoppers will spend the same or less on holiday-related purchases, with more than half (53 percent) planning to use coupons for gifts, entertaining, travel, and food/catering.

Among the findings several notable trends in spending, coupon usage and purchase intentions were revealed:

  • Checking the Budget Twice: According to the survey, shoppers are concentrating on sticking to their budget, with nearly half (46 percent) of respondents spending less than $500 this year on gifts. When many consumers are thinking about trick-or-treating, 40 percent of consumers are starting their holiday shopping before, and during, the month of October, in hopes of purchasing great gifts at lower prices.
  • Coupon Clipping is Alive and Well: More than half (53 percent) of consumers say they will use coupons when making holiday-related purchases to hopefully stretch their dollar a little farther. Gift-givers also say they plan to cut costs on gifts and holiday entertainment with coupons on toys/games (60 percent), food/catering/groceries (56 percent), electronics (56 percent) and entertainment (48 percent).
  • The Early Bird Catches the Deals: When asked if they shop for gifts during big sales days, one in three men (32 percent) and women (35 percent) make their way through the early morning crowds on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). Similarly, 36 percent of women and 31 percent of men are looking for gifts on Cyber Monday. For those super shoppers out there, 14 percent of men and women will take advantage of deals and savings on both mega shopping days.
  • Giving to Ourselves: Roughly one fourth of women plan to brace the long checkout lines on Black Friday (26 percent) and/or search the web on Cyber Monday (23 percent) in hopes of purchasing items for themselves. Men are slightly more likely to shop for their own wants and needs online on Cyber Monday than women (27 percent)–proving consumers are almost equally likely to be generous to the one paying the bills this holiday season.
  • Keeping Budgets In-Check: For all holiday purchases, including gift and travel intentions, 84 percent of consumers plan to spend about the same or less than last year. Families looking to spend less this year are looking to reduce gift purchasing, with both men (84 percent) and women (78 percent) planning to spend less. Half (50 percent) of the shoppers polled are planning to cut back on dining out with the family to help keep holiday spending down.