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Ho, ho, ho, OH NO. It's Time to start holiday shopping

By TIMES WIRES
Published November 5, 2006


Yes, we know. Halloween was just last week. But if you haven't started buying holiday gifts, especially online, you might be behind, say two surveys.

Twenty-nine percent of Americans have bought some of their holiday gifts, says a survey of 1,000 adults by Consumer Reports, and 49 percent expect to be done by the second week of December. On the other hand, 22 percent said they'll still be at it on Christmas Eve. And no doubt, those folks will be buying gift cards:

- Although half of respondents said they received gift cards last year, 19 percent of the recipients said they hadn't used them.

- 60 percent said they plan to give gift cards. And it was the most desired gift among women, with 16 percent listing it first. Twelve percent chose jewelry.

And shoppers plan to spend more than one-fourth of their budget on the Internet, says a National Retail Federation survey of 7,623 consumers by consumer research company BIGresearch:

- About 47 percent of con-sumers plan to make at least one holiday purchase online this year, up from 36 percent three years earlier.

- About 29 percent of the average $791.10 shoppers plan to spend for this year's holidays will go toward Internet purchases.

You're never too old to be hip

New media is no longer just the province of the pubescent. A growing share of its audience is old. Ancient. Like, even older than 40. One-third of the video-sharing site YouTube's audience is older than 45, says a study by Nielsen NetRatings:

- More than 30 percent of the folks flitting about social networking powerhouse MySpace.com are between 35 and 49; and 27 percent are older than 45.

- A third of iTunes users are in their wealth-building years.

Don't worry, be happy with ARM

Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages worry about rising interest rates, but many think they will be able to refinance their loans if necessary, says a survey of 1,300 homeowners by bank Wells Fargo & Co.:

- Nearly 80 percent of homeowners with ARMs said they were "somewhat" concerned, "very" concerned or "extremely" concerned about rate increases.

- But more than half said they thought they could refinance their loans. And about 20 percent said they were prepared for rate adjustments.