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BigResearch: Confidence Down One Point in September

Consumers were feeling slightly less confident about the future this month than they were in August, according to BigResearch's monthly consumer tracker.

Thirty percent feel confident/very confident in the chances for a strong economy, down over a point from a month ago and down more than 10 points from September 2007. Nearly half (49.7% ) say they've become more practical in their purchasing, up from 48.2% in August. More than half (56.1%) remained focused on needs rather than wants right now, which is even with last September.

"Job loss plays a big role in these statistics," according to the research firm.

Although more than a quarter said they in increasing their savings, half of consumers surveyed by BigResearch said they're still not saving enough.

Consumers are also focused on paying down debt (34.5%), spending less (25.4%) and paying with cash (22.6%).

Only 3.8% plan to increase their holiday gift spending this year, compared to 4.7% who planned to boost spending ahead of holiday last year and 6.9% in 2007. Nearly 40% are planning to budget less, a slight increase compared to this time last year.

Those planning to spend more tend to be male and younger than the group of belt-tighteners. They are also very confident in the economy as well as their jobs and their finances.

When it comes to intent to purchase over the next 90 days, all major categories are down from a year ago, including linens/bedding, apparel and toys.

BigResearch's monthly survey of 8,000 consumers also tracks what's hot and what's not. For this month, farmers markets and early holiday shopping are hot; gray denim is not.

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