HOBOKEN, N.J. — With most Americans looking to save rather than spend this holiday season Credit Union Times looks back at last year’s expected consumer holiday spending.The annual CUNA/CFA holiday study found that consumers were planning to spend 35% less during the holidays last year, which at the time was the highest percentage in the history of the survey. The rising cost of gas and home heating was the most common factor found that caused the decrease in planned holiday spending. The study found that 38% of respondents said that high energy and gasoline costs would have a negative effect on their spending plans, which was up from 32% in 2006.Other factors cited as having an impact on consumer spending were the price of gifts, a family’s current finances and general household expenses.Numbers stayed the same as 2006 for those that planned to spend more money during that holidays (15%) and those planning to spend much less (18%). Those that expected to spend the same as 2006 dropped from 52% in 2006 to 47% in 2007. Those that planned to spend somewhat less than 2006 increased from 14% in 2006 to 17% in 2007.In response to the study results, CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said, “Given all the other headwinds the consumer is facing this year, mainly a very small proportion of households facing extreme difficulties with their mortgage payments and a much larger proportion of households seeing the value of their wealth decline as housing prices fall, I’m actually surprised that the results were not weaker than they are.”Hampel went on to say that the results were “noticeably but not dramatically softer than last year” and that the bottom would not fall out of retail sales, but it would be a tough year for retailers.At the time, consumer debt concerns were high, particularly among people with incomes below $50,000. Fifty-three percent has said that they were concerned about meeting their loan obligations, and 30% said they were very concerned.

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