Shoppers to cut back holiday gifts: Reuters poll

Wed Sep 17, 2008 1:25pm EDT
 
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By Sarah Coffey

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Nearly six times as many U.S. shoppers say they will cut back on gift-buying this holiday season than those who plan to spend more, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.

The poll results were bolstered by a forecast from research firm TNS Retail Forward. In the gloomiest holiday forecast yet, TNS said it expected a mere 1.5 percent growth for holiday fourth-quarter retail sales, the worst in 17 years.

Consumers pressured by high fuel prices and a U.S. housing slump are focusing on paying only for essentials and cutting back discretionary items like extra clothes and gifts.

Growing fears over the health of Wall Street since investment firm Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection and the U.S. government agreed to rescue insurance giant AIG this week will likely strike at consumer confidence even further.

More than 44 percent of people surveyed by the monthly Reuters/Zogby poll last week said they will spend either a little less or a lot less on gifts this year than in 2007.

Forty-six percent said they would spend about the same and just over 7 percent said they would shell out more.

"This a staggeringly bad number," said pollster John Zogby, referring to the number of people who said they would spend the same amount on gifts this year. He noted that with inflation, even flat sales means retailers won't be making as much.

"You're still going to have people standing in line at three in the morning at Wal-Mart, but the lines may be thinner this year" on Black Friday, he said, referring to the day after Thanksgiving in late November that kicks off the holiday sales season with a barrage of promotions.   Continued...

 
<p>Christmas shoppers in a file photo. Nearly six times as many U.S. shoppers say they will cut back on gift-buying this holiday season than those who plan to spend more, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch</p>