Although retail sales fell 0.3 percent in October from a year earlier, 16 percent of Americans say they plan to spend more on gifts this holiday season than last year, an increase from 2013 (11 percent) and in 2012 (13 percent), according to a new poll from Rasmussen Reports
A total of 44 percent plan to spend less, down from 56 percent a year ago. And 35 percent expect to spend about the same amount as in prior years, according the survey, conducted Monday and Tuesday.
A total of 34 percent of Americans already have begun their holiday shopping, down from 37 percent a year ago but up from 32 percent two years ago. A total of 63 percent haven't started shopping yet.
Meanwhile, 37 percent of Americans think the economy will strengthen over the next year, while 32 percent think it will weaken, down from 44 percent during the summer.
When it comes to holiday retail sales, Irwin Kellner, chief economist for MarketWatch, isn't so optimistic. "Holiday shopping season so far is less than sparkling," he writes. "Parking lots are half-filled at their peak, and they seem to empty out well before closing time."
Rising prices for non-energy goods and services are emptying consumers' pocketbooks, Kellner says. And people are worried about the job market.
"Forget about finishing their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving," Kellner writes. "This year, shoppers will go down to the wire—Christmas Eve—if they have to in order to get what they want for the price they want to pay."
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