Card issuers and retailers should expect a lean holiday season this year as consumers continued to signal that they will cut back more than splurge on gifts, decorations and celebration, according to the National Retail Federation.According to NRF’s “2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey,” conducted by BIGresearch, U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $682.74 on holiday-related shopping, a 3.2% drop from last year’s $705.01.The survey painted a strong picture of how the downturn will impact holiday spending and holiday card interchange. Two-thirds of Americans (65.3%) said the economy will affect their holiday plans this year. And a majority of these consumers said they’re adjusting by simply spending less (84.2%). People will also be shopping for sales more often (55.0%), using more coupons (41.7%) and putting up last year’s decorations (34.0%). Many Americans will also make changes in gift-giving, planning to buy more practical gifts (36.0%), buying a joint gift for kids or parents (17.3%) and making more gifts (16.7%). Additionally, more than one-fourth of Americans (28.6%) say the economy is forcing them to travel less or not at all for the holidays.“While last holiday season was filled with chaotic confusion, adjusting to uncertainty has now become routine for many Americans,” said NRF President/CEO Tracy Mullin. “This holiday season will be a bit of a dance between retailers and shoppers, with each group feeling the other out to understand how things have changed and how they must adapt.”As in previous years, three-fourths of Americans’ holiday budget will be spent on gifts. While spending on family members will decline by a slight 2% ($387.06 in 2009 vs. $395.15 in 2008), gifts for friends ($66.77 vs. $80.13) and co-workers ($19.26 vs. $22.63) will see double-digit drops. Americans also plan to spend about 5% less ($34.81 vs. $36.88) on “other” gifts for people like babysitters, teachers and clergy.Gift cards also seem to be part of the downturn but have retained their popularity as gifts. According to the survey, 55.2% of adults would like to receive a gift card this holiday season, with clothing (48.8%), books and DVDs (48.6%) and electronics (33.2%) among other popular choices. –[email protected]

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