By Michelle Graff
New York--Twenty-four percent of affluent consumers in the United States plan to give jewelry or watches this holiday season, according to the latest Time Inc./YouGov survey, which polls the top 10 percent of American households.

The bad news: The percentage of those with jewelry/watch holiday purchasing intentions is down slightly as compared to last year, when it was at 30 percent.

The good news: Among the top 1 percent of U.S. households (household income $450,000 a year or more), 31 percent said they were planning to buy jewelry/watches for the holidays this year, up from 29 percent last year.   

What’s more, despite the industry’s constant consternation about reaching the younger generation, the survey shows that wealthy millennial consumers really do enjoy giving jewelry as a gift.

When asked to list all the categories in which they plan to buy gifts this holiday season, 35 percent of millennial-aged respondents said jewelry/watches, topping both travel/vacations (28 percent) and experience gifts (23 percent.) 

YouGov Managing Partner Cara David said what affluent millennials don’t like giving are gifts that are impersonal, such as gift cards.

In fact, the survey showed that millennials are actually the least likely age group to buy gifts cards. Only 22 percent of Gen Y survey-takers said they’ll be giving cash or pre-paid gift cards this holiday season, compared with 30 percent of Generation Xers, 39 percent of baby boomers and 44 percent of matures (ages 70 and up).

David said younger consumers like to give gifts that expose the recipient to new experiences, or that are more personal, which jewelry is. 

Time Inc., which publishes Time magazine along with People, Fortune, Real Simple and others, conducts The Survey of Affluence and Wealth a few times a year with market research firm YouGov.

For the 2015 holiday edition, they surveyed 1,076 affluent U.S. consumers online in September. 

Other insights from the survey include the following.

  • More people are adopting a “one-for-you, one-for-me,” shopping philosophy this year. A total of 42 percent of survey-takers said “yes” when asked how likely it was that they would buy gifts for themselves while shopping for others, up from 36 percent in 2012. Among those self-gifting, 74 percent were millennials and 47 percent were women.
  • A lot of people want jewelry for the holidays. When asked what the one gift is that they really hope to receive this year, the third most popular answer was jewelry, behind only travel/an experience and “something from the heart,” such as arranging to bring the entire family together for Christmas. 
  • Most online shopping still takes place on a laptop/desktop computer. Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they would use a laptop/desktop computer when holiday shopping this season, while 34 percent said they would use a laptop/desktop and smart device, meaning a smartphone, tablet or smartwatch. Only 8 percent said they would be shopping exclusively on smart devices.
  • Online shopping continues to grow. The greatest percentage of respondents, 39 percent, said their holiday buying would be a mix of online and in-store purchases, though they will be doing more shopping online. This a number that has grown steadily since 2011.

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