Why most Americans will hold the line on holiday spending

Holiday shopping will be up overall, but most people are going spend the same or less as last year. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

The National Retail Federation forecasts holiday spending will grow up to 4.2% this year, but the majority of Americans actually plan to spend no more than they did last year, and many will spend less, according to a new Bankrate.com survey.

Based on responses from about 2,700 U.S. consumers surveyed between Oct. 23 and Oct. 25, 52% said they plan to spend about the same as they did last year; 22% plan to spend less, and 13% said they don’t plan to spend anything on holiday purchases this year.

Only 13% of respondents said they would spend more than they did last year.

Among those not planning to spend more or spend even less than they did last year, 27% said it is because they are concerned about the state of their finances or the economy. Another 28% said they would rather save money than spend it.

The majority of those surveyed, 56%, will shun taking on debt this holiday season, saying they intend to do their holiday spending with money they already have.

“Bring only cash when you shop in person. I know it sounds old-school and even ancient. And yes, you won’t score any rewards points. But trust me, you’ll save more than you’ll earn in points,” said Howard Dvorkin, chairman at Debt.com.

“It’s proven psychology that it’s harder to permanently hand over a paper $20 bill than it is to temporarily hand over a plastic credit card,” he said.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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