Instead of buying a new sweater or camera, people are spending money on a night on the town or a vacation. Some 47% of consumers gave an experience as a gift in recent years, according to a survey by credit-monitoring agency Experian, which expects that figure to increase. The figures include consumers spending on themselves as well as others.
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The trend was picking up steam even before the holidays. Data analyzed by MasterCard (MA) SpendingPulse showed a 5.7% year-over-year rise in spending on lodging for October and a 7%-10% increase for casual dining establishments, which offer both take-out and sit-down services.
Factoring in the experience makes current holiday spending estimates brighter. "Your favorite restaurant is a one-off, not a chain and that's not being accounted for in the holiday spending estimates," says Sarah Quinlan, SVP & Group Head of Market Insights at MasterCard Advisors. "I think this spending will be a positive surprise for the economy."