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BigResearch: November Finds Shoppers Weary, but Less Practical about Spending

COLUMBUS, OHIO - Consumers are slightly less confident about the U.S. economy in November than they were last month, but at the same time they are feeling less practical about spending as the holiday season approaches.
     That is what consumer research firm BigResearch found in its most recent Consumer Intentions & Actions Survey, which was conducted Nov. 3 to 9. The monthly survey monitors more than 8,000 consumers.
     The November survey found that just over one in four (27.4%) surveyed consumers said they are very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy. That was one point lower from October's 28.5% and nearly two points from Nov. 2009's 29.2%.
     "While the current reading is an improvement from the dismal 22.3% recorded in November 2008, this figure remains well below November 2007's 37.2% and November 2006's 50.3%," BigResearch noted.
     Post-election this month, fewer than one in four (23.0%) said they feel more optimistic about the economy. The majority - 56.5% - are not, while 20.5% just don't know. Those most likely to feel more optimistic include men - 27.1% versus women at 19.1% - and $50,000+ wage earners - 27.2% compared to the 20.1% making less than $50,000.
     "While confidence remains depressed compared to last month and one year ago, it seems that shoppers will still elect to head to stores this holiday season," BigResearch noted.
     In November, 45.0% said they had become more practical and realistic in their spending, lowering three points from October's 48.6% and about a point from November 2009's 45.9%.
     "With many retailers kicking off the holiday season with early Black Friday deals, fewer consumers contend they're focused on needs rather than wants when spending," the research firm also found. "While the majority (54.1%) is still focused on the necessities, this figure has declined almost three points from last month (56.7%) and a point from a year ago (55.2%)."
     More good news for retailers: After rising in October to 34.6%, the number of consumers planning to decrease overall spending has dropped nearly four points to 30.8% this month, on par with November 2009 (30.4%). However, with a third (32.2%) making paying down debt a fiscal priority over the next three months, it is unlikely consumers will overspend this holiday season - as one-fourth plan to increase savings (25.3%), while one in five (21.3%) intend to pay with cash more often.
     "The holiday shopping season - and the accompanying advertising onslaught - has begun, and early ‘Black Friday' deals seem to be among the most popular promotions to entice shoppers to stores," BigResearch added.
     While pre-Thanksgiving might be a little early to begin Christmas shopping for some (34.2%), nearly a third (30.6%) said they'll take advantage of early bird deals. More than one in three (35.2%) don't know if they'll shop sales yet.

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