Black Friday 2011: Shoppers Expected to Give More to Charities, Study Finds

The struggling economy is partially to blame for reports indicating that 71 percent of consumers are expected to spend less on holiday gifts this season while more than half of Americans are estimated to spend more on charitable donations, according to a survey.

The poll commissioned by World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization, asked more than 2,000 residents in both the U.S. and Canada about their shopping habits.

"This survey shows once again that, during uncertain economic times, Americans continue to prioritize helping those in need," said Traci Coker, U.S. Gift Catalog Senior Director at World Vision.

Four out of five Americans said they plan to give a "meaningful gift" that helps someone rather than a tradition holiday gift, including electronics and clothing, according to the survey. Roughly three out of four Americans plan to increase their charitable giving when the economy improves.

"This suggests that the relevance or meaning of the cause, charity, or gift becomes more important for people as they make giving decisions in a strained economic environment," said Michele Salomon, Senior Research Director at Harris Interactive, which conducted the survey for World Vision.

The current economic climate is to blame for the expected decrease in traditional holiday shopping, according to the survey.

The U.S. economy is expected to enter into a recession by early 2012, according to a Reuters report. Government officials anticipate a more than 50 percent chance of an economic downturn by the start of the new year, while private economists put the risk closer to 30 percent.

The U.S. economy is vulnerable to shaky economic situations abroad, according to reports. The economy dipped after a large earthquake and tsunami struck Japan earlier this year. Economists anticipate the growing turbulence in the European economy to have a similar effect.

It is unclear exactly what consumers will spend this holiday season as more and more stores offer deals earlier, online and in greater volume in an attempt to lure limited consumer dollars.

Apps to help shoppers be aware of near round-the-clock store hours are all being offered to consumers to help retailers profit this holiday season.

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