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N.C. Shoppers Optimistic About Economy, Say Cyber Monday Bigger than Black Friday

The most recent survey by the Elon University Poll also asked about spending plans for the holiday season, political talk around the Thanksgiving table and favorite Thanksgiving traditions.

Cyber Monday is again overshadowing Black Friday as North Carolina shoppers head into one of the hottest shopping seasons of the year, the Elon University Poll found. More than a third plan to click and buy on the Monday following Thanksgiving, when many retailers offer online deals to help boost holiday shopping revenues, compared to the one in five who aims to brave the crowds in person the day after Thanksgiving, the most recent Elon Poll has found.
Close to 60 percent of N.C. residents plan to spend about the same this holiday season as last year, while 25 percent said they will spend less and 13 percent said they will spend more. Those spending predictions are coupled with results that show more than 75 percent of people in the state believe the economy is either staying the same or getting better, the poll found. One in five said the economy is getting worse.
“If survey responses are any indication, retailers should enter the critical holiday season with little alarm,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and assistant professor of political science. “On both gift spending plans and economic outlook, North Carolina voters, as a whole, are more optimistic than they were in fall 2013 when we last asked these questions. However, Cyber Monday has increased its lead over Black Friday, suggesting local businesses without a web strategy might not fully benefit from rising optimism.”
As for the conversations at the dinner table on Thanksgiving — 45 percent said they plan to discuss politics less than in past years, while 28 percent said they are more inclined to talk politics this year and 21 percent said political conversation will be about the same as past years. Asked about favorite Thanksgiving traditions, food came in at No. 1 (40.5 percent) followed closely by “spending time with family” (36 percent).
The live-caller, dual-frame (landline and cell phone) survey of 771 registered voters in North Carolina was conducted Nov. 6-9, 2017. Survey results in this news release have a margin of error +/-3.5 percent.
State of the economy
The Elon Poll found that Republicans and Democrats have very different opinions on the current state of the economy. Asked how the economy now compares to what it was a year ago, 71 percent of Republicans said it has gotten better while 17 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independents shared that view. Democrats were more likely to say the economy has gotten worse, with 33 percent holding that view compared to 3 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of independents.
Opinions were also split along racial lines, with 44 percent of whites saying the economy is better now than it was a year ago compared to 18 percent of blacks. Among blacks, 39 percent said the economy has gotten worse compared to 14 percent of whites.
Men were also more likely to say that the economy has gotten better (48 percent) than women (28 percent) and rural residents were more likely to say the economy is better (43 percent) than those in the suburbs (37 percent) or urban areas (32 percent).
Looking back at the Elon Poll’s 2013 survey that delved into many of the same issues, N.C. residents are much less pessimistic about the state of the economy. Four years ago 39 percent said they expected the economy to get worse while 20 percent hold that view now. Then, 32.5 percent said they expected economy to get better while 38 percent have that optimism today. 
Cyber Monday vs. Black Friday
The Elon Poll found that holiday season shopping continues to shift online, with a larger segment of shoppers now looking for deals on Cyber Monday than on Black Friday. The Elon Poll last compared the two shopping days in 2013, and the online trend has continued.
When asked four years ago, 26 percent of N.C. residents said that they planned to head out shopping on Black Friday, while 71 percent said they would stay home. This year, 21 percent said they would be out on Black Friday and 76 percent said they would skip the deals and the crowds.
The segment of N.C. residents taking advantage of online deals on Cyber Monday has risen slightly since the poll last delved into the topic in 2013. Then, 33 percent said they would shop Cyber Monday while 60 percent said they would take a pass. Now, 35 percent expect to shop online on the Monday after Thanksgiving while 55 percent will say “no thanks.”
Holiday Spending
Delving deeper into thoughts about spending this holiday season, the Elon Poll found a split between Democrats and Republicans, perhaps tied to the difference in their opinions on the current state of the economy.
Among Democrats, who were more likely to say the economy has deteriorated during the past year, 32 percent said they plan to spend less money on gifts this holiday season. Among Republicans, 17 percent said they would spent less and 22 percent of independents said their spending would fall. Republicans were the most likely to say their spending level would stay the same, and there were few differences based on party affiliation between those who said they planned to spend more.
Looking at other demographics, women were more likely to say they plan to spend less this holiday season, as were blacks.
Spending plans have shifted since 2013 when the Elon Poll last asked about whether N.C. shoppers would spend more, less or about the same as the previous year. This year, the poll found a larger segment — 59 percent — saying their holiday spending budgets would remain the same, with 46 percent of respondents falling into that category in 2013.
Four years ago, about a third said they planned to spend less while 20 percent said they planned to spend more. This year, 25 percent say they will trim their holiday spending budgets while 13 percent say they plan to spend more of gifts.