Survey: Environmental Issues Affected Holiday Spending

Planet Earth and global manufacturing issues increasingly figure into consumers' spending decisions, with a vast majority of holiday shoppers expressing a willingness to pay more for eco-friendly gifts and taking note of the country where items were made, says the 2007 Annual National Shopping Behavior Survey by audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP.

In addition, money was tighter this year. While an average of 36 percent of shoppers previously reported spending more each year during similar surveys from 2003 to 2006, just 30 percent of respondents in 2007 said they spent more than the preceding holiday season on gifts.

"When consumers had the opportunity, they purchased gifts to fit their social conscience," said John Rittenhouse, a KPMG retail partner and national leader for Operations Risk Management. "The 'green-quotient' and a product's country of origin have become important reputational concerns for shoppers, due mainly to recent publicity on the environment and manufacturing issues in emerging markets."

Some 88 percent of the survey respondents, Rittenhouse said, were concerned about the environment, 74 percent indicated they buy environmentally friendly products, 60 percent were willing to pay more for such items, and 55 percent say they make a special effort to patronize retailers with a "green" reputation.

In addition, 40 percent of consumers said they checked the country of origin on potential gifts, with 31 percent using such information to decide against a purchase.

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