October 20, 2009 / 6:24 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 1-U.S. consumers plan to spend less this holiday-NRF

* Consumers plan to spend $682.74 on holiday, down 3.2 pct

* Marks first drop since 2002 when NRF began tracking data

* Economy, unemployment to inhibit spending (Adds ShopperTrak data, share moves)

By Nicole Maestri

SAN FRANCISCO, Oct 20 (Reuters) - U.S. consumers plan to spend 3.2 percent less on holiday shopping this year than a year ago due to worries over the economy and unemployment, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the National Retail Federation.

It marks the first time consumers have said they intend to spend less for the holidays since 2002, when the trade group began tracking such figures.

“Americans are not ready to declare an end to the recession,” said NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis. “There’s a lot of uncertainty around the economy with the average shopper.”

Earlier this month, the NRF forecast a 1 percent drop in total 2009 U.S. holiday sales, compared with a 3.4 percent drop in 2008. If the 2009 sales drop materializes, it would mark the first back-to-back drop since the NRF started tracking such figures in 1992. [ID:nN05375558]

The muted view of the holidays was echoed by ShopperTrak later on Tuesday, which forecast a 1.6 percent rise in sales and a 4.2 percent decline in shopper traffic to stores this year. [nN20424185] Major retail shares tracked by the Standard & Poor’s Retail Index .RLX fell 1.7 percent.

According to the NRF survey released on Tuesday, U.S. consumers said they will spend an average of $682.74 on holiday shopping this year, down 3.2 percent from $705.01 last year.

Two-thirds of Americans said the economy will affect their holiday plans. Fifty-five percent said they will shop for sales more often; nearly 42 percent said they would use more coupons, and 34 percent said they would use last year’s holiday decorations.

Spending on family members will decrease by 2 percent, while gifts for friends and co-workers will see double-digit drops, the survey found.

The NRF said candy and food spending may be a bright spot, with the average person planning to spend $10 more in that category than last year.

Discount retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) or Target Corp (TGT.N) should also benefit from the frugal mindset.

The NRF survey found that 70.1 percent of holiday shoppers intend to shop at discounters, while 55.8 percent will also shop at department stores. Grocery stores, the Internet, clothing stores and electronics stores will also be popular destinations, the NRF found.

The NRF 2009 survey was conducted by BIGresearch. The survey polled 8,431 consumers from Sept. 30 until Oct. 7 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 1 percent.

Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Richard Chang

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