By Brecken Branstrator
New York--Twenty-seven percent of wealthy shoppers said they plan to buy jewelry this holiday season, with most indicating that they would spend the same amount or more on gifts this year, a recent study shows.

In Shullman Research Center’s latest “Insights Into Luxury, Affluence and Wealth” report, the firm looks at the way that consumers are planning to shop for the 2014 holiday season, with a particular focus on affluent American shoppers, those with a household income of more than $75,000.

While 21 percent of all U.S. adults who plan on Christmas shopping expect to buy jewelry, the percentage increases when looking at the top 41 percent of households. 

A total of 27 percent of those who earn more than $75,000 likely will buy jewelry in 2014. When looking at consumers who earn more than $250,000, that number increases to 29 percent, and to 38 percent when looking at income levels above $500,000. 

At all levels of income, the top gift was gift cards, with nearly half of U.S. adults indicating that they plan on giving gift cards this year. For households with an income greater than $75,000, this is followed by toys, books, personal electronics, and then video games and related equipment, among others.

A majority of consumers in all income segments said that the amount they plan on spending this year is either about the same as or more than what they spent last year. 

According to Shullman, 17 percent who will buy for the holidays already have begun shopping. Another 23 percent intend to begin shopping before Thanksgiving, 18 percent expect to start and finish their shopping during Thanksgiving week, and 17 percent plan on shopping during the first two weeks of December.

The remaining 7 percent said that they won’t begin holiday shopping until the middle of December.

Millennials are notable in this part of the study for being late starters, with more than half saying that they will start shopping sometime around Thanksgiving, which means that luxury marketers still have time to reach these consumers before they make their final shopping decisions, Shullman said.

The research also shows that online-only retailers will be popular among affluent consumers, with 74 percent of those with household incomes of $500,000 or more indicating that they would do some shopping at pure-play Internet retailers. 

Mainstream department stores and specialty stores also attract a healthy share of consumers with an income greater than $250,000.

When it comes to using digital devices for holiday shopping, affluent consumers particularly are enthusiastic about this shopping method. 

However, Shullman pointed out that while approximately nine out of 10 of these shoppers will go online to do some purchasing, that doesn’t mean they don’t have an omnichannel shopping strategy; they’ll still go to brick-and-mortar stores. 

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