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Christmas budget: More, less or the same?

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Monday, December 17, 2012
Posted: 2 pm ET

Are shoppers planning to spend more, less or about the same on holiday gifts and celebrations this year?

The answer depends on who asks the question -- and who answers it.

A survey of 8,899 consumers conducted for the National Retail Federation, a trade group that represents retailers, found the average holiday shopper intended to spend $750 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and other purchases this year, up slightly from the $741 shoppers actually spent last year.

A separate survey of 1,012 people conducted for the Consumer Federation of America and Credit Union National Association, or CUNA, found 12 percent planned to spend more this year and 38 percent planned to spend less. Last year, only 8 percent planned more spending and 41 percent planned less spending.

The respondents' income and their own perceptions of their personal financial situation were key factors in this survey's findings. Among those who earned less than $25,000 annually, only 11 percent planned to spend more this year while 44 percent planned to spend less.

Among those who earned more than $100,000 annually, 18 percent planned to spend more while only 31 percent planned to spend less. Those who had the lowest incomes generally also were more likely to believe their financial situation had deteriorated and thus were more likely to cut back holiday spending.

An online poll of 1,413 people by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, or NFCC, found 50 percent intended to spend less on holiday purchases this year because they were in a worse financial position. And, 37 percent of the respondents planned to make no holiday purchases as they feared further financial distress.

Last year, 91 percent of respondents in this poll said they intended to cut back or spend zero.

NFCC spokeswoman Gail Cunningham said in a statement consumers aren't willing to repeat the mistakes of Christmases past by spending irresponsibly.

How much more or less are you planning to spend this year? And why?

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff.

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1 Comment
Jay R.
December 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Our family's holiday budget has gone up. We refinanced our home in Northwest Arkansas. And our cash flow is much better than it was a year ago.