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Consumers Pull Back on Holiday Spending

More than half of consumers are spending less on holiday shopping this year, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reconnaissance Inc.

More than half of consumers are spending less on holiday shopping this year, according to a recent survey by Consumer Reconnaissance Inc.

Consumers are limiting their gifting to fewer people, setting price limits on gifts, scouting for sales, and even opting for homemade crafts, such as photo collages, over purchased gifts.

According to Consumer Reconnaissance, about 58 percent of people surveyed are spending less this year than last. The average person is buying gifts for four or five people, and spending about $43 per person, totaling around $200 for their holiday shopping.

Jenny Sequeira, a 30-year-old in Las Vegas, said her family started a new policy this year of spending no more than $20 a person. For her mother, she is making a photo collage and buying a frame for it from Target.

“This Christmas is the beginning of a new tradition for our family,” said Sequeira. “Typically Christmas is full of shopping, spending and giving so much that we each go into debt for hundreds or thousands to make it happen. This year we are all feeling the pinch. Some of us are working two and three jobs to make ends meet and, as a whole, the expensive Christmas concept has changed. I think [the gift price limit] will shift the focus from expensive consumerism to thoughtful giving.”

Nearly half of customers surveyed (47 percent) reported they would buy less apparel this holiday season. For those buying clothes for gifts, more than a fifth of people surveyed in another ongoing study by Consumer Reconnaissance said discount was the biggest factor in their apparel gift buying, and another 17 percent reported that value was the most important factor.

“I have been much more financially conscientious this year than other years,” said Lee Heffner, a 25-year-old Washington resident who spends Christmas with her family in Naples, Fla. “Whether or not something was on sale influenced my decision to buy something, as I felt that if it wasn’t on sale at a store, I could find the same item on sale at another store.”

Heffner predicted she would spend between $500 and $750 in total for gifts this year. In the two weeks before Christmas, she bought her future sister-in-law limited edition makeup compacts from Bobbi Brown and Laura Mercier that were 20 percent off and was still looking for a pair of Prada Sport shoes for her mother that she hoped she would be able to buy while Neiman Marcus was having a Friends & Family sale. Besides that, she made her parents calendars and coasters from photos at ofoto.com.

Jackie Borcherding, a 28-year-old in Austin, Tex., who likes to shop sales, spent about $160 on gifts for her family, including a $100 diffuser for 15 percent off and a $20 shawl for 25 percent off for her mother.

“I definitely spent much less this year,” said Borcherding. “Even though I’m not directly affected by the recession, it has generally changed my attitude about consumer spending and the need for conservation and enjoying the Christmas season without all of the spending.”