CNBC Poll: Many Holiday Shoppers Plan to Spend Same as Last Year

Nearly half of holiday shoppers are expected to spend the same amount as they did last season, according to a new CNBC poll.

Indeed, lower gas and energy prices, along with enticing holiday sales, won’t be enough to propel the vast majority of buyers to spend more this year versus last.

CNBC’s inaugural Holiday Central Survey -- which polled 604 consumers -- found that only 23% of respondents said those factors would help them when it comes to holiday spending. And 35% of those polled said lower energy prices and discounts wouldn’t help them at all, while 40% said those factors will help them out “just a little.”

Consumers are expected to spend $764 on average, but only one in five of consumers polled expect to spend more than last year. Nearly half (46%) expect to spend about the same and 32% will spend less.

Nearly half of consumers say they’ll do the bulk of their spending at big box stores such as Wal-Mart or Best Buy , while 25% plan to do the majority of shopping at department stores; 18% plan to do the majority of shopping online; 14% and 13% will largely shop in locally-owned stores and chain stores like Barnes & Noble, respectively. Another 5% plan on doing most of their shopping through mail-order catalogues, with 1% at luxury stores like Tiffany or Neiman Marcus.

Thus far into the shopping season, the biggest winners appear to be electronics retailers like Best Buy and popular-priced department stores like J.C. Penney . But Wal-Mart, which promised the most aggressive discounting ever, was an exception, announcing its first monthly sales decline in more than a decade.

More than half of those polled (54%) believe that their personal economic situation is about the same as it was last year, while 26% say its better and 20% believe it’s worse.

Half of the respondents believe the economy in their area is about the same as it was last year, while 27% say it’s worse. One in five say it’s better and 3% are unsure.

The survey was conducted by Hart-McInturff. Of those polled, 49% had annual household incomes of less than $50,000; 29% had household incomes between $50,000 and $100,000; 10% had more than $100,000; and 12% refused to respond.

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