LOS ANGELES (Reuters) Two-thirds of U.S. adults plan to spend less this holiday season and 6 percent say they still are carrying debt from last year's holiday purchases, according a new Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll released on Thursday.
As recession lingers on Main Street and job losses mount, 65 percent of Americans say they plan to cut overall holiday expenses such as gifts, travel and entertaining.
In last year's poll, 76 percent of shoppers said they planned to cut back on holiday spending.
The planned pull-back comes on top of last year's dismal shopping season, when consumer spending lagged markedly and shoppers weren't yet sure how far the U.S. financial market meltdown would spread.
About 13.5 million consumers, or 6 percent of Americans, have yet to pay off debt rung up during the 2008 holiday season, a result that is virtually unchanged from last year's survey.
While U.S. consumer debt remains high, the poll results show that shoppers aren't "getting deeper in the hole" during the holidays, said Tod Marks, Consumer Reports' senior editor.
Consumer Reports magazine is published by the nonprofit Consumers Union and does not accept advertising. It interviewed 1,000 adults from October 15-18 for its holiday shopping survey.
Half of the people responding to the poll said they would be making a budget this year. But as many people know, intentions do not always equal reality.
Of the 38 percent of consumers who said they made a budget last year, 44 percent admitted exceeding it and 5 percent said they went way over their budgeted limit, Marks said.
"People talk tough this time of the year," he said.
Reporting by Ros Krasny in Boston and Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Steve Orlofsky