Scrooges, Not Shoppers, This Christmas: Survey

Most plan to spend the same or less than last year on holiday revelries

Americans are in a grim mood, and it's showing in their plans for holiday shopping, with 82% saying they will spend either the same as last year or less.

Results released Monday of a survey by America's Research Group found that more than half of survey respondents said the economy will get worse before it improves, according to a Reuters report. Approximately 51% said they did not feel better about their family's financial situation than they did last year.

Britt Beemer, president of America's Research Group, pointed out in the report that consumers had a laundry list of costs and expenses that were eating up money they might otherwise have for holiday celebrations: higher costs for food and other items, fewer pay raises to help pay for them, falling home values and the political atmosphere in Washington.

"Retailers better be worried about Christmas. If half of Americans believe it is going to be worse before it gets better, they may not be too excited about buying much this Christmas season," he said in the report, adding, "This is not the kind of number that retailers want to have going into November 1 or they are going to be in big trouble. They are going to have to give consumers better deals earlier."

As pressures mount on household budgets, consumers are turning away even from discount chains to shop at dollar stores; 68% said they have done so, and 42% said such stores offer better bargains than chains like Target and Wal-Mart. Falling sales will further handicap an economy dependent on the consumer for nearly 70% of its activity.

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