U.S. shoppers plan to spend an average $750 on gifts and holiday-related items such as decorations and greeting cards -- a modest 1.2 percent increase from what they spent last year, but the largest amount since 2007 and the full onslaught of the recession.
Northeasterners, meanwhile, are ready to fork over even more for their purchases. They'll spend an average $877 for holiday items, 12.4 percent more than they expected last year, according to a National Retail Federation survey conducted this month.
The Washington, D.C., trade group has forecast holiday sales to reach $586.1 billion this year, up 4.1 percent from 2011.
"We've seen this pattern of cautious optimism all year and despite the challenges that still exist in our economy, it looks as if consumers are eager to celebrate with friends and family," NRF CEO Matthew Shay said.
Although more than half of Americans say the economy will affect their spending plans, the numbers are fewer this year: 52.3 percent nationally compared to 62.2 percent last year, and 50.7 percent in the Northeast versus 59.1 percent in 2011.
"More than half of Americans ... will compensate by doing what they've been doing for several years -- looking for ways to cut any corners, comparative shop online and in stores more often, and even planning to travel less or not at all," Shay said.
More than a third of those Northeasterners said they'll use the Internet to compare prices. And, nationally, a record-high 51.8 percent of consumers, up from 46.7 percent, will head to the Internet to shop.
Discounter Target yesterday became the latest retailer to address the growing number of consumers buying online. Its stores will match the prices of select online retailers -- Amazon, Best Buy, Toys "R" Us and Walmart among them -- from Nov. 1 to Dec. 16.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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