WASHINGTON (UPDATED: 1:15 P.M. ET, 11/21/11)—The 2011 Consumer Federation of America (CFA)/Credit Union National Association (CUNA) holiday spending survey has found that spending continues to improve following the great recession, but "spending plans are still considerably below where they were before the recession," CUNA Chief Economist Bill Hampel said.
This year's survey has found that 8% of respondents plan to spend more on gifts and holiday items, with 41% of respondents saying they would spend less this holiday season. These results are nearly identical to last year's consumer predictions, when the CFA and CUNA survey found that one in ten consumers would up their holiday spending, and 41% at that time saying they would curtail their holiday spending. In 2008, the peak of the recession, 55% of respondents said they intended to cut their holiday spending, which was well above the 40% or less, on average, who said they'd cut their spending between 2000 nd 2007.
The survey, which was presented during a Monday event at The National Press Club in Washington, D.C., was executed between Nov. 10 and 13 and questioned 1011 adults. This is the 12th consecutive year that CUNA and the CFA have partnered to conduct the survey and offer consumer advice on managing holiday debt.
The 2011 survey showed a direct link between financial condition and planned spending, with 33% of those that said they would spend more this year saying their financial condition had improved since 2010. Just over half (55%) of those who said they were planning to spend less said their financial status was worse than last year. Overall, 35% of households with $100,000 or more in yearly income reported that their financial condition improved, while 50% of households with annual incomes below $25,000 said their financial situation had worsened over the past year.
The CFA and CUNA suggested that consumers that are looking to spend less this holiday season stick to a predetermined budget for gifts, holiday foods, party clothes, holiday decor and postage. Consumers will also benefit financially from comparison shopping and can plan for future holidays by shopping post-holiday sales for next years' gifts. Starting a holiday savings account, or curbing spending by finding low- or no-cost ways to celebrate the holidays, are also options, CFA Executive Director Stephen Brobeck said.