Consumers are leaving it late this year with their holiday shopping, and are targeting discount and department stores, according to a new survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The NRF's 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found that the average person in the US had completed 47.1% of their holiday shopping by the second week of December, down on the 52.6% average at the same time last year.

Clothing remains the most popular gift purchase, with 44.8% of consumers naming it among their holiday buys.

Books, CDs, DVDs, videos and video games are the second most popular purchase (40.8%), with toys ranked third at 33.1%.

NRF president and CEO Tracy Mullin said the timing of the holiday break and Thanksgiving was one reason for the delay to shopping.

"Procrastinators are in good company this year, because a shorter window between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year means that the holidays have snuck up on many of us," she said.

"Retailers will try to manage the rush of last-minute shoppers with expanded hours, extra employees to stock shelves, and a lot of sales and promotions."

Forty-three per cent of shoppers will visit discount stores over the holiday period, with 42.5% intending to go to department stores.

But less than one-third (31.8%) will visit speciality stores, while 40.2% plan to shop online - up from 34.9% a year ago.