NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Don't expect higher gas prices to dull gift-giving this year: Consumers plan to spend a bit more on holiday gifts and merchandise, according to a survey released Wednesday.
According to the National Retail Federation's 2004 holiday spending survey, consumers plan to spend $702.03 over the holidays, on average, up 4.5 percent from last year. Total holiday spending is estimated to reach $219.9 billion this year.
"Retailers can be encouraged that consumers have been planning ahead for the holidays," Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of NRF, said in a statement. "Shoppers won't let higher gas prices and rising interest rates steal Christmas this year."
The recent survey found that consumers will spend the bulk of their holiday budget, or about $406.52 on gifts for the family, and $71.29 on friends. Gift-givers will also spend $22.12 on co-workers and $41.10 on other people, including babysitters and teachers.
Among the popular holiday merchandise, shoppers are expected to spend $35.91 on decorations, $25.22 on greeting cards, $83.77 on candy and food and $16.10 on flowers.
Many more consumers are including themselves on the gift list. The survey said 51 percent of respondents planned to take advantage of holiday discounts to pick up a few items for themselves, spending an additional $90 on those purchases.
Said Mullin, "Consumers want to reward themselves for a job well done and the savviest shoppers know that this is the best time of year to find great deals. Retailers would be wise to acknowledge that some shoppers feel they deserve a little something for themselves."
Books, CDs, DVDs, videos and video games ranked among the most popular gifts that people want to receive this year followed by clothes, accessories, consumer electronics, jewelry and home decoration products.
The survey, which polled 7,861 consumers from Oct. 6 to Oct. 14, has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.0 percent. The survey was conducted for NRF by BIGresearch