The PriceGrabber survey strikes a less optimistic tone. It found that 53% of respondents are planning to spend less than last year, with 38% saying they will spend less because they're earning less.
A driving force for getting people into stores may be how early, and to what degree, retailers discount goods. In a twist on conventional wisdom, American Express found that deep discounts are more important to affluent shoppers than lower income shoppers.
Eighty-two percent of respondents said they could be enticed by discounts. Young professionals seemed easier to motivate, saying they would be willing to begin spending with discounts as low as 10%. By contrast, the affluent said it would take a discount of 30%, on average, to open their wallets.
"People are looking for a reason for the season to get excited to shop," Codispoti says. "What we are finding this year is that even more modest discounts are luring consumers into stores."
The American Express survey found that many are cutting the number of people they will buy gifts for. When consumers were asked to compare this year's gift list to last year's, more than half said they're not purchasing presents for acquaintances and co-workers they gifted last year.
As for travel spending, the American Express survey provides a mixed bag for airlines looking to cash in on the Thanksgiving week crush. Although 30% of U.S. consumers say they will make changes when it comes to this year's travel plans, only 21% expect those expenses to decrease from last year.
Those who plant to modify travel plans say they intend to travel by car, stay for a shorter time and use incentives like frequent-flier miles to help pay for holiday trips.
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