NEW YORK — Twice as many back-to-school shoppers are blaming "fears about the economy or losing their job" for spending less this year compared with 2001, during a season in which SpongeBob, Britney Spears and NASCAR are seen dominating the licensed character and sports-logo action.

That’s the word from America’s Research Group, a Charleston, S.C.-based consumer behavior consultant, which has just released results from its b-t-s consumer survey. The poll, conducted Aug. 1-3, showed 38.9 percent of adults saying they’d rolled back seasonal spending plans due to worries over job security or the economy, compared with 17.4 percent a year ago.

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