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Holiday spending could rise, despite economic concerns, poll says

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Poll released Monday by Credit Union National Association, Consumer Federation of America
  • It says 57% plan to spend the same or more during holidays this year, compared with 2009
  • 23% feel better about finances than last year, but 41% plan to spend less, poll says

Washington (CNN) -- Many Americans will cautiously spend as much or more this holiday season than they did last year despite weak labor markets, economic uncertainty and heavy debt loads, according to a joint national poll on consumer spending and saving attitudes released Monday by the Credit Union National Association and Consumer Federation of America.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans plan to spend the same or more during the holidays, and 23 percent acknowledge they feel better about their overall financial situation than last year, said Mike Schenk, a CUNA senior economist. But others will play it safe.

Forty-one percent said they'll spend less than they did in 2009, with more than half citing economic concerns or less cash to play with. But with the slowly improving economy, some consumers who plan to avoid purchases might end up spending after all. "We think that's because despite their best-laid plans, consumers often trip into this behavior of spending more than they planned," Schenk said.

Still, some shoppers are making a more "concerted effort" to pay down their debt instead of spending more, said Stephen Brobeck, executive director at CFA, showing that desire for financial security in the coming year will certainly influence holiday expenses.

The Opinion Research Corp. poll was based on phone interviews with 1,011 American households conducted November 11-14. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.