Shoppers will spend more this holiday season, still wary of debt

Shoppers will spend more this holiday season, still wary of debt The majority of consumers say they're in a position to spend as much or more than they did last holiday season due to improved finances, according to a new poll from the Consumer Federation of America and Credit Union National Association. More consumers – 23 percent – said their money situationis better than it was last year, a jump from the 19 percent who responded similarly in 2009.

Because of this improvement, 10 percent said they planned to spend more than they did last year, while another 41 percent believe they will spend just as much, the report said.

"While these results convince us that holiday spending will increase this year – elements of our survey also underline the fact many consumers continue to harbor significant concerns about the economy and their personal finances," said Mike Schenk, CUNA senior economist. "Because of this we expect the increase in holiday spending this season to be modest – roughly half the 5 percent long-run average increase."

The poll also found more consumers are making greater efforts to deal with their debt, and have been successful in doing so. Fewer respondents said they were very concerned about meeting monthly credit card debt payments, resulting in a drop from 12 percent of those polled to 10 percent.

However, those between the ages of 45 and 54 still have particular concern for the health of their finances. Where holiday shopping is concerned, more than half of those in this demographic say they intend to spend less than they did last year, the report said. Another 28 percent said they will spend much less, compared to just 19 percent of all respondents. In addition, 36 percent said they were in worse financial shape, and 14 percent said the problem was much worse.

Of particular concern to this age group was making payments into credit card debt, as 33 percent said they were concerned about being able to do so. All debt payments – including mortgages – worried 52 percent of these respondents.

As a result of this concern, many consumers of all ages have made a concerted effort to reduce their reliance on credit card debt in recent months.