New York CNN Business  — 

Shoppers expect to pull back on purchasing gifts for their families and friends this holiday season, and that may not bode well for retailers.

More than a quarter of Americans — 28% — say they will spend less on holiday gifts this year compared to last year, Gallup said in a new poll released Tuesday. It marks the highest percentage Gallup has recorded since 2012 for Americans who expect to spend less on gifts than they did the year prior. Just 12% of shoppers say they will spend more this holiday on gifts than they did last year.

People expect to spend an average $805 on holiday gifts this year, down from $942 last year at this time, Gallup found in a survey of 1,035 adults conducted September 30-October 15.

Gift-giving is a key driver of holiday sales, and a drop in spending on gifts could lead to a muted season for stores.

There is a wide range of holiday forecasts this year, reflecting the uncertainty around the coronavirus pandemic. Real estate firm CBRE projects that holiday sales will increase less than 2% this year from 2019. Meanwhile, economists at Wells Fargo have predicted an increase of 9% as consumers shift their spending from other areas like travel and services.

Rising coronavirus cases and a stimulus package that has stalled in Congress could mean consumers will spend less on discretionary items like holiday gifts, economists say.

A separate survey echoed the sentiment. Nearly one in three US households say their financial situation is worse than last year, according to a Deloitte survey of 4,012 consumers released earlier this month. As a result, 38% of consumers say they plan to spend less on the holidays, a level not seen since the Great Recession.

The presidential election could also impact consumer sentiment. “We think consumers are likely to be distracted during the time around the election, creating near-term volatility in holiday sales,” UBS analysts said in a report Monday.

- CNN’s Cristina Alesci contributed to this article.