Survey: More consumers planning to increase holiday spending this year

Monday, November 22nd 2004, 12:10 pm
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ More consumers plan to increase their spending during this year's holiday season than did last year as concern about paying off debt has lessened and economic optimism has grown, a survey released Monday shows.

Longer gift lists also may help explain the modestly expanded spending plans, the Consumer Federation of America and the Credit Union National Association said in their fifth annual survey of predicted holiday spending.

When respondents were asked whether they intend to spend more or less during this holiday season than last year's, 17 percent said they planned to spend more, up from 15 percent in the 2003 survey.

At the same time, consumers whose financial situation has deteriorated and are carrying heavier debt loads continue to anticipate cutting back their holiday spending _ only slight less so this year.

Thirty-two percent of respondents said they plan to spend less this holiday season, down from 34 percent last year. Those planning to spend much less declined to 12 percent from 16 percent.

Half of those polled said they plan to spend roughly the same amount as last year, the same as in the 2003 survey.

Among those who plan to increase spending, 43 percent cited an improved financial situation or greater confidence about economic prospects. Thirty-six percent said they simply have more people to buy gifts for this year.

For those planning to cut back, 25 percent cited a worsened financial situation. An additional 25 percent said they needed to pay off other expenses.

Amid evidence of a big jump in consumer prices last month, especially for gasoline and groceries, some economists have expressed concern that rising prices could sap consumers' appetite to spend.

The holiday spending survey polled some 1,000 American adults from Nov. 11-14. Its margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points.