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BIGresearch Finds July Consumer Confidence Down

So far, consumers aren't feeling all that generous when they look ahead to this year's holiday shopping season, according to consumer data collected by Bigresearch.

The consumer intelligence firm surveyed more than 8,000 consumers about their confidence levels in July and their expectations through the end of the year.

Compared to how they spent their money during last year's holiday season, during this year's fourth quarter:

69.1% of consumers expect to spend less overall;48.3% said they will buy items that are on sale;40.4% will comparison shop;32.4% said they will buy gifts for fewer relatives;And 30.7% said they will buy gifts for fewer friends.

More recently, consumer sentiment continued to decline in July as only 27% of those surveyed say they are “confident/very confident” in the chances for a strong economy. That figure was down three points from June — but more than eight points higher than at this time last year.

However, compared to July 2007, almost half — or 47.8% — had high expectations.

“Those were the good old days, and fewer believe we'll get back to those days,” the firm said.

Only two in five consumers believe the economy will rebound to what it was before this current crisis – down five points in just four months. One in four shoppers is pessimistic about the rebound, and 30% just aren't sure.

Abating confidence has only made practical consumers more numerous, Bigresearch noted. More than half —or 51% — say they have become more practical in purchasing – up more than three points from 30 days ago and, more significantly, even higher than this same time last year when gas prices were more than $4 a gallon.

When asked about their outlook for the next 90 days, consumers predict for retailers that all major merchandise categories will remain down as they have been since June.

Several segments within the home category — including home improvement, lawn and garden, and home furniture categories — have lately seen gains in consumer intentions to buy from a year ago.

Nine in 10 consumers said that the recession will impact their lifestyles over the long term.

Over the next five years:

52.1% said they will consider each purchase more carefully;48.85 will be more price conscious;46.7% will stick to their budgets;45.2% will dine out less often;42.4% expect to carry less credit card debt.

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