Holiday Shoppers to Spend 3% Less

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NEW YORK ( -- Nearly two-thirds of holiday shoppers say the economy will affect their buying this year, with the average amount being spent dropping by about 3%, according to an industry report released Tuesday.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) said 2009 will be the "holiday season of the serious bargain hunter."

"It comes as no surprise that the economy was an overriding theme throughout this year's survey," the report said.

Overall, the report said, consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, down 3.2% from 2008.

More than 65.3% of respondents said the recession has forced them to alter their holiday shopping plans in some way.

Of those, 84.2% said they will cope by spending less. Other popular responses included shopping for sales more often (55%); using more coupons (41.7%); and putting up last year's decorations (34%).

"While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans," said NRF President Tracy Mullin, in a statement.

In the survey, 70.1% of those polled said they will shop at discounters and 43.3% said sale prices are the most important factor in choosing a retailer.

The candy and food category was "one bright spot," with respondents planning to spend about $90.26 -- a $10 increase from the previous year.

The survey, conducted for the NRF by BIGresearch, polled 8,431 consumers between Sept. 30 and Oct. 7.

Tuesday's report reiterated an NRF prediction released earlier this month, in which the trade association said it expects total holiday sales to fall 1% to $437.6 billion.

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