Consumer holiday shopping expected to change for the worse

During the upcoming holiday season, U.S. consumers intend to spend an average of $682.74 on shopping, a 3.2 percent decrease compared to last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch,

“While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,” National Retail Federation President and CEO Tracy Mullin said in the release. “This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.”

Though Americans were less inclined to purchase gift cards last season, gift cards retain their spot at the top of the list among gift recipients. According to the survey, 55.2 percent of adults would like to receive a gift card this holiday season. Clothing came in second at 48.8 percent.

Two-thirds of Americans (65.3 percent) say the economy will affect their holiday plans this year, with the majority of these consumers saying they’re adjusting by simply spending less (84.2 percent). People will also be shopping for sales more often (55 percent) and using more coupons (41.7 percent).

Whether they’re shopping to get the best selection or trying to stretch out spending over a longer period of time, many holiday shoppers are starting early. According to the survey, 39 percent of Americans will begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, which is comparable to previous years.

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