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Retailers, consumers and prices

Many Americans plan to spend less on gifts this year

October 12, 2009

USA/If you received a great Christmas present last year, and are hoping for the same kind of treatment this year, don’t hold your breath — U.S. consumers are planning to spend conservatively this holiday season, according to two new surveys.

Gallup poll found that consumers, on average, plan to spend $740 this year on holiday gifts. At this time last year, consumers said they planned to spend $801 on average. That number fell to $616 during a November poll, although it recovered slightly to $639 in a December poll.

The latest Gallup survey, which polled over 1,000 consumers from Oct 1-Oct 4, found that 33 percent of respondents said the planned to spend less this year on holiday gifts. Last year, that figure was 35 percent.

Apart from 2008, when retailers faced the toughest holiday shopping season in nearly four decades, Gallup said its 2009 spending outlook is the worst since mid-December 1991, when 33 percent of Americans said they would spend less on gifts than the year before.

The trend of paring back is the same among the nation’s elite.

A separate survey, which polled 684 people with an average income of $300,000 and net worth of $3.1 million, found that nine percent of those people said they would not buy any gifts this year. Three percent said they would spend more than they did last year, while 38 percent said they would spend less.

The survey, by the American Affluence Research Center, estimated this group of consumers would spend about $2,400 per household, on average, for holiday gifts.

(Photo: Reuters)

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