A new study released on Thursday shows that U.S consumers have spent almost 20 percent more on gifts so far this year compared to the same period last year. Continued gift spending is expected to reach over $2,250 this year once the Christmas season is in full swing.

According to a study done by Unity Marketing's Gift Tracker, gift spending for the holidays and all celebratory occasions for this year, will be 12 percent higher than the average spending in 2005. To date, some 25 percent of gift buyers have already spent an average of $169 on Christmas gifts, which represents a 5 percent increase from last year. Unity expects the average amount spent on Christmas gifts to exceed $1,000 following the level of gift spending through the year.

"The gifting market is especially important to the nation's retailers and not just during the fourth quarter, but throughout the entire year,' says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing. "Approximately 40 percent of gift shoppers' annual budgets are spent buying gifts for gifting occasions that occur throughout the year.

The most popular gifts so far this year have been gift certificates, chocolates and other feel-good products. Topping the list were also luxury gifts such as, bath and body gifts, luxury soaps, candles, home fragrances and take-home spa kits.