CUNA, CFA Study Examines Holiday Spending Plans

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Almost a third of shoppers said they'll cut back on spending this holiday season as worries about the price of gasoline and home heating costs dampen consumer sentiment. Even so, CUNA and the Consumer Federation of America said they expect spending to rise 5% above last year's levels, as it has in each of the last two years.

"We're expecting a hefty increase in holiday sales this year, of around 5%," said CUNA chief economist Bill Hampel, last week while discussing the two groups' sixth annual holiday spending survey. "The biggest risk to that is if early heating bills that households get before the holiday spending season is over really shock people," he said.

For the past two years, consumers have spent more than 5% than in previous years on holiday gifts. Among consumers surveyed by the two groups this month, 30% said they would spend less on holiday gifts than they did in 2004, with 14% planning to spend more and 51% saying they'd spend about the same as last year. In addition, 41% of respondents said the cost of gasoline and home heating oil would decrease their spending, according to the poll.

The survey was conducted Nov. 10-13 among more than 1,000 Americans.

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