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$770: The cost of your Christmas shopping, Gallup poll says

For the average American, $770 is no small sum. But that’s how much they’ll each shell out on average for Christmas gifts this year.

That’s roughly the equivalent of three iPhone 5 smartphones, with tax.

Consumers have boosted their holiday spending each year since 2009, when the price tag on Christmas gift-giving plunged to a two-decade low of $616 per person. The $866 figure from 2008 capped a six-year rise, according to an annual poll of more than 1,000 adults by Gallup.

PHOTOS: The Black Friday rush

This time around, nearly nine in 10 shoppers will spend some amount of money on Christmas gifts, according to Gallup. Three in 10 will spend more than $1,000.

The U.S. Postal Service calls the holiday season its “Super Bowl.” The throngs of shoppers that elbow, crash and occasionally pepper-spray their way into retail stores starting on Black Friday give rise to door-buster deals, holiday hiring surges and – once in a while – protests.

The 2012 season will bring “good, though not great, sales for holiday retailers,” according to Gallup. Retail sales over the period will increase 3.5% to 3.7%, Gallup forecasts – a less robust pace than the 5.5% and 5.6% boosts from the last two years but on pace with the decade-long average.

In the run-up to the Black Friday surge, sales rose 3.5% in October – a dip from the 8.2% lift during the month last year and the 5.3% advance the year before. Superstorm Sandy may have tamped down sales, Gallup said. 

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