* 28.4 pct say food costs cause cutback
* More know where they will cut back than in past
* iPad leads the tablet battle
Nov 1 More than a third of U.S. consumers
expect rising food prices to cause them to cut back on holiday
spending, a new survey showed on Tuesday.
A total of 28.4 percent of the 1,000 people surveyed by
Americas Research Group said that rising food costs would
cause them to cut back on their Christmas shopping "somewhat,"
while another 7.2 percent said that they would "most
definitely" cut back. The question was one in a series posed by
Reuters and included in the research group's latest survey.
Manufacturers and producers have sharply raised food prices
this year to cope with soaring costs for commodities ranging
from soybeans and corn to peanuts.
While some of those commodity prices have retreated in
recent weeks, the high prices on store shelves are expected to
This is not the first time that rising food prices have
taken some of the joy out of Christmas, America's Research
Group President Britt Beemer said, citing a survey two years
ago that showed 31 percent planned to trim spending.
The difference is that back then, 60 percent of people did
not know where they would cut back. Now, consumers have grown
so used to living within limited means that they already know
how they plan to spend less.
"Everybody could tell us what they could do, so this 36
percent of people have thought about it," Beemer said.
A total of 58.1 percent who will cut back said they would
spend less on each gift they bought, while 26.1 percent said
they would buy gifts for fewer people. Almost 9 percent said
they would not buy a gift for their spouse and 6.2 percent said
they would make a gift rather than buy it.
Retailers are expected to be fighting over market share in
a holiday season where sales are expected to only rise in step
The National Retail Federation earlier this month forecast
that U.S. retail sales would increase 2.8 percent in November
and December, excluding cars, gasoline and restaurants.
One strategy more retailers are adopting is offering
layaway -- letting consumers put aside goods and pay for them
over time before Christmas.
More than 17 percent said that they will use layaway, and
Wal-Mart Stores Inc , the world's largest retailer, is
getting by far the biggest share of those shoppers. A total of
11.2 percent of those surveyed said they would use Wal-Mart's
layaway program. The world's largest retailer brought back
layaway for toys and electronics this season for the first time
in five years.
Planned layaway use is far higher than Beemer has seen in
"It could be because Wal-Mart is getting back into the
game or it could be that Wal-Mart, through their research, saw
that people wanted it, so they jumped in to get their fair
share," Beemer said.
Shoppers are also continuing to cut back on credit card
use, with 39.7 percent saying they will use credit cards less
and only 5.2 percent saying they will use credit cards more
than last year.
Computer tablets like Apple Inc's iPad and
Amazon.com Inc's Kindle Fire are expected to be among
the hot gifts this year, and 18.6 percent of those surveyed
said they would buy one.
Tablets look like one category for which consumers are
willing to pay up, as 11.8 percent plan to buy an iPad and 3.7
percent plan to buy the less expensive Fire.
"Americans are still brand-name driven, when the company
deserves it," Beemer said.