Holiday spending slashed - survey

Survey says constrained budgets and financial anxiety mean 55% of consumers are planning to cut back.

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By Julianne Pepitone, CNNMoney.com contributing writer

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55% of respondents will trim back, while 27% plan to spend "much less."
Since the start of the recent market meltdown, how often do you check your 401(k) balance?
  • Once a day
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  • I can't bear to look

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Consumer spending is expected to decline sharply during the 2008 holidays due to constrained budgets and financial anxiety about the future, according to a survey released Monday.

A little more than half, or 55%, of the 1,000 respondents said they planned to reduce holiday spending at least "somewhat," and a full 27% said they planned to spend "much less than last year," according to the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) survey.

The top two reasons cited by those planning to spend less were the economy and related economic uncertainty (36%), and less money (22%).

"The results are so sharply different from the past eight years we have been doing this survey," said CUNA chief economist Bill Hampel. "Since data collecting began in 1992, we haven't seen a year-over-year decline."

From 2003 to 2007, the survey showed just 30% to 35% of consumers cutting back on holiday spending.

"This year, I'd guess spending could be 2% to 5% less than last year," said Hampel.

Record numbers of all age and income groups intend to reduce spending in 2008, according to the survey. Sixty-two percent of women and 61% of households with children said they would tighten the purse strings, compared with only 48% of men and 51% of childless households.

The survey of 1,000 adult Americans was conducted Nov. 6-9, with a margin of error of plus/minus three percentage points.  To top of page

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