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CUNACFA Holiday spending could inch up this year
WASHINGTON (11/23/10)—With unemployment rates hovering around 10% this year and the economy perhaps working toward a sluggish return to normal, a Credit Union National Association (CUNA)/Consumer Federation of America (CFA) survey has offered a glimpse of some improvement in holiday retail sales. One in ten respondents to a CUNA/CFA holiday spending survey said that they would spend more than they spent last year when making their yearly gift selections. That beats 2009 results when only 8% intended to increase their holdiay spending. The survey, which was presented during a Monday event at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., was executed between Nov. 11 and 14 and questioned 1000 adults. This is the 11th consecutive year that CUNA and the CFA have partnered to conduct the survey and offer consumer advice on managing holiday debt. Speaking during the Monday press conference, CUNA Senior Economist Mike Schenk said that 23% of respondents said that their financial condition had improved over the past year, indicating that holiday spending could see an upturn. However, 41% of consumers surveyed this year said they intend to cut back their holiday spending, compared to 43% last year. One quarter of respondents said that they were holding back due to concerns over the state of the economy, and 33% said that they were restricting their spending due to their own personal financial situations. Just over one in ten of the respondents said that they were opting to save rather than spend. A total of 47% said that they would spend the same amount they spent last year. CUNA and CFA suggested that consumers can keep their individual levels of holiday debt under control by sticking to a predetermined budget for gifts, holiday foods, party clothes, holiday decor and postage. Consumers will also benefit financially from comparison shopping and paying with cash or lower-interest credit union cards. CUNA and the CFA also noted that while new rules that restricted gift card expiration dates and fees make them a safer gift, those that give gift cards “should still read the fine print.” Consumers can also plan for future holidays by shopping post-holiday sales for next years' gifts and starting a holiday savings account that they will contribute to over the course of the year, or take the novel approach of curbing spending through low- or no-cost ways to celebrate the holidays, CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck suggested. Nearly 20 national and local media outlets covered Monday's release of the consumer holiday spending projections. (See related story in today's News Now: Local, national press cover spending survey release.)


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