Two days after "Black Friday", it looks like the Grinch is in the house again this year...
From AP by Jeannine Aversa entitled: Debt turning shoppers into Scrooges
"A lot more Americans are feeling stressed out by debt this holiday season, raising the glum likelihood they'll behave like Scrooge rather than Santa.
In fact, fully 93 percent say they'll spend less or about the same as last year, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. Half of all those polled say they're suffering at least some debt-related stress, and 22 percent say they're feeling it greatly or quite a bit. That second figure is up from 17 percent just last spring, despite all the talk about economic recovery.
Most people — 80 percent — say they'll use mostly cash to pay for their holiday shopping, and that generally means buying less.
For example, Joy McGavin, 26, of Pittston, Pa., says she will cut back on holiday gifts by a few hundred dollars this year and pay for everything with cash.
"Family — nieces and nephews — we won't be able to afford this year," says the stay-at-home mother of three. They now shop at Big Lots — not Wal-Mart. "They're too expensive this year," she says.
Her husband, Robert, had been working two-full time jobs, as a mechanic at a garage and at an auto parts store. Recently his retail job was cut back to part time. "We don't have as much as we had last year," McGavin laments. They don't have health insurance and have racked up major medical bills.
Diane Morrison, 57, of Flemington, N.J., says simply, "I'm going to cut back." She's clipping coupons and "looking for big sales."
She owns a payroll company, and many of her clients are laying off workers. Some of the companies are folding, she says, and "I'm feeling more stressed because I feel my income will go down because of what's happening with my business."
How consumers behave during the holidays and beyond is a critical force determining how strongly the economy snaps back from the worst recession since the 1930s. Consumer spending is the single-largest driver of overall economic activity.
This time of year is crucial for merchants, accounting for up to 40 percent of their annual sales. The National Retail Federation believes holiday sales will decline this year, but the drop won't be as steep as last year when the country was deep in recession
The traditional kickoff of the holiday sales season is Friday — the day after Thanksgiving."
By the way, nationally, sales are expected to be down slightly from last year's level during the holiday shopping period. The National Retail Federation is predicting a 1 percent decline this year, or around $438 billion.
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