Consumer Wish List Revealed

We ran a poll on the Website a couple of weeks back, asking Guide readers what tops their holiday wish-lists for home theater equipment. Predictably, HDTV was a top contender, with DVD players and other components making the cut.

But what does the general population of consumers really want? While nearly half of Americans (45%) want digital cameras/camcorders, this is followed surprisingly closely by high-definition television (HDTV), which is a top choice of 40% of those polled. Computers (37%) and DVD players (36%) rounded out the results.

The survey was conducted by Market Facts back in June. The want list differed slightly according to gender: Women hope to get digital cameras/camcorders, computers, and DVD players, while men prefer HDTV, followed by digital cameras/camcorders and computers. The company says it polled a representative sample of 1000 men and women aged 18 and older; the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1%.

Other findings: 50% plan to offer DVD films as gifts, and 25% say they hope to surprise someone with a DVD player. A full 30% of those polled say they start shopping two to four months before the holidays, while 21% claim to be bargain-hunters, hitting stores for the day-after-Thanksgiving sales. And nearly two out of 10 people (19%) say they procrastinate, rushing out at the last minute to buy what's left on the shelves. More than any other age group, 55- to 65-year-olds prefer to beat the end-of-the-season rush, with nearly one-third (28%) beginning their holiday shopping one year in advance.

When asked which three people were the hardest to shop for during the holiday season, "mom and dad" were listed as a big holiday challenge by nearly half (47%) of the respondents, followed by significant others (34%), co-workers and friends (29%), and teens (21%). When unwrapping gifts they don't necessarily like, 62% of gift-getters prefer to grin and bear it, rather than risk hurting their loved ones' feelings. Another 16% admit they secretly exchange unwanted gifts without a receipt. Over a third (36%) of respondents wish for more flexible return policies.