NEW YORK (CNNfn) - A new survey shows Americans plan to spend 15 percent less on holiday presents this year, but at least one analyst thinks the outlook is for 'moderate' sales.
"I think what you have for the last two years is basically what you're going to have this year: perhaps a little bit better (sales)," said Irwin Cohen, a retail analyst with Deloitte & Touche.
The survey, published by Syracuse University, found most people in the United States plan to spend less in 1997 than they did last year.
But Cohen expects same store sales, which compare the increase at stores open fore more than one year, to rise about 3.5 to 4 percent in 1997, about even with last year's growth rate.
Cohen sees strong sales in women's and men's apparel, toys, jewelry, and "non-traditional" presents such as gift certificates.
He also expects more "aspirational" gifts -- items that people want, but don't really need.
"You've had this long-term recovery and basically there aren't too many people in the United States who need anything more," Cohen said.
Aspirational gifts include jewelry, expensive coats, for example.
The Northeast will be strongest for retail sales, followed by the Midwest and the South. The West, where the economy has suffered because of defense cuts, will continue to trail in retail sales.
But Cohen said the situation in the West is improving.