By Michelle Graff
Atlanta--Fine jewelry and watches top the wish lists of some of the wealthiest American women this holiday season, a new survey finds.

According to preliminary results of the latest survey from the Atlanta-based American Affluence Research Center, 33 percent of affluent women surveyed said they want fine jewelry/watches for the holidays, a desire topped only by money/gift cards at 44 percent.

Overall, the survey shows that while wealthy Americans plan to spend a little less on holiday gifts this year on a per-household basis, more plan to shop, which will be enough to buoy the total holiday spend.

A total of 97 percent of affluent consumers polled said they will buy Christmas or Hanukkah gifts this year, up from 93 percent who said  the same in 2012. The 97 percent figure represents a return to 2006, or pre-recession, levels of holiday gift-buying.

Of those buying gifts, 73 percent said they would spend the same amount as they did in 2012. A total of 20 percent said they would spend less (average decrease was 14 percent) and 7 percent said they would increase their spending (average increase was 10 percent), making the weighted average change in per-household spending a negative 2 percent.

With this 2 percent decline in average spending, the estimated average for holiday spending is $2,513 per affluent household, which equates to a total of $27.8 billion spent on gifts, a 2 percent increase over 2012.

The affluence center’s survey, released Sept. 23, is one of a number of holiday polls and predictions to surface as December draws nearer.

Chicago-based ShopperTrak, an analytics firm that has devices in place at shopping centers that measure foot traffic and shopping patterns, said earlier this month it expects sales to increase 2.4 percent in November and December. Deloitte issued a more optimistic forecast, calling for sales to increase between 4 and 4.5 percent in the November-January timeframe.

The American Affluence Research Center conducts two surveys a year polling a national representative sample of the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans with a net worth of $800,000 or more. The respondents’ average net worth was $3.1 million. 

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