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    NRF Study Finds Holiday Shopping Trends Flat

    Consumers look to spend less and find more deals.

    WASHINGTON -- The National Retail Federation’s 2008 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey shows customer spending habits are forecasted to increase by just over 1 percent over last year.

    The survey, conducted by BIGresearch, found U.S. consumers plan to spend an average of $832.36 on holiday-related shopping, up 1.9 percent over last year’s $816.69. This, the report notes, represents the lowest increase in planned consumer spending since the survey began in 2002.

    "Retailers are going into this holiday season with their eyes wide open, knowing that savings and promotions will be the main incentive for shoppers," NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said in a statement. "No one is canceling Christmas because money is tight, but consumers will be sticking to their budgets and looking for good deals when deciding where to spend this holiday season."

    Consumers said the biggest role in buying decisions comes down to pricing. According to the survey, 40 percent of shoppers say sales or promotions is the largest factor when determining where to shop, while 12.6 percent said everyday low prices are most important.

    "It might not be easy to pull back on small gifts for a co-worker or a child's teacher, but consumers feel like their family understands their current situation," Phil Rist, vice president of Strategy for BIGresearch, said in a statement. "Americans might eliminate an extended family gift exchange or buy one big present for all of the kids to compensate for a budget-friendly Christmas this year."

    According to the survey, 40.2 percent of consumers will start their holiday shopping before Halloween with most consumers (69.7 percent) planning to shop at discount stores.

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