CHICAGO: Almost half of Americans are intending to spend less this holiday season than last, with gift cards emerging as a popular choice, according to two new surveys.

Online lender CashnetUSA polled 2,014 adults and found that 46% were planning to cut their spending. Just 8% anticipated they would spend more while 37% expected their outlay to remain the same. And 9% said they didn't spend any money at this time.

Family members other than children were likely to bear the brunt of reductions as 63% of those saying they would spend less said they would spend less on this group.

Other areas earmarked for cutbacks were expenditure on non-family members (54%), holiday travel (43%), children or grandchildren (35%) and holiday meals (30%).

Megan Staton, director of marketing for CashNetUSA, pointed to falling consumer confidence. "Americans are focusing on basic spending and curtailing what is perceived as non-essential costs," she said.

"With prices increasing and paychecks staying the same or declining, many Americans have no choice but to shorten the length of their holiday shopping lists."

A separate survey from the Retail Gift Card Association (RGCA), based on online responses from 2,767 consumers, found that 74% of these planned on giving at least one gift card over the holiday season.

Simple convenience (70%) and the knowledge the recipient could buy what they wanted (79%) were the main reasons for giving them.

Interestingly, while consumers were embracing mobile and online options there was little enthusiasm for using these cards online. Fully 78% said they would spend their cards at a retailer's bricks and mortar location.

An analysis of social media conversations by digital marketing agency Prime Visibility echoed the RGCA as it said cash and gift cards were the most requested holiday presents, with Starbucks, iTunes, and Target the most widely requested cards.

After these two items, iPhones topped the list of actual products, while Nike and Ugg were widely requested apparel brands.

Prime Visibility also noted that teens were increasingly looking to other social networks than Facebook, with Instagram leading the way, ahead of Tumblr and Snapchat.

Data sourced from PR Newswire; additional content by Warc staff