Think the shutdown's just affecting spending from furloughed workers? Think again.
Two new surveys indicate that many consumers are scaling back or plan to due to the shutdown—a worrying trend for retailers as the crucial holiday spending season quickly approaches. What's more, retail executives are saying they are already feeling the pinch.
About 40 percent of consumers have curbed spending as a result of the partial U.S. government shutdown, according to a survey commissioned by Goldman Sachs and the International Council of Shopping Centers that interviewed 1,025 adults between Oct. 10 and Oct. 13.
"As congressional leaders optimistically predict a budget deal may soon be reached, it is clear that the fallout of the past two-week impasse in Congress has affected consumers' willingness and maybe their ability to spend," said Michael Niemira, ICSC's vice president of research.
The fallout's been especially sharp among lower-income consumers. Nearly half of those earning $35,000 or less said they've scaled back their spending versus about a third of respondents making $100,000 or more.
(Read more: Shutdown is having 'notable impact' on mortgages)
While most of those scaling back said they were cutting spending a little, about 13 percent of survey respondents said their reductions were "considerable."
As early as last week, Family Dollar Stores Executive Chairman and CEO Howard Levine said the situation was not helping consumer confidence.
More than half of Family Dollar customers collect some sort of government assistance so when they read about the current uncertainty, "it impacts their confidence regarding their outlook," Levine told analysts on Oct. 9.
"The threat of the shutdown, the uncertainty regarding some of the government assistance … (and) the uncertainty around job growth are very real to our customer every day," he said.
Ripple effects for holiday spending
The shutdown also could have a lingering impact. A separate National Retail Federation survey of 6,415 respondents indicates the prolonged Washington gridlock is affecting consumers' plans to spend during the holidays. The average holiday shopper is expected to spend about $738 on gifts, decor, greeting cards and more, down from about $752 last year.