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Attention, Holiday Shoppers: Big Discounts Predicted

Get ready for an onslaught of holiday bargains.

Almost three-quarters of chief marketing officers expect U.S. retailers to offer more discounts and promotions this holiday than last year, to entice shoppers who are being squeezed by the credit crunch, according to a survey released Monday by BDO Seidman.

This year, credit concerns muscled out high energy costs as the top issue that chief marketing officers expect will affect the holiday shopping season.

When asked to pick one issue that will have the greatest impact on holiday shopping, 27 percent of chief marketing officers said credit concerns, while 22 percent cited high energy costs, according to the survey.

Last year, 52 percent of the CMOs surveyed cited high energy costs as the top issue.

Retailers are heading into the crucial holiday season worried that shoppers will rein in spending as they face a credit crunch that could limit their holiday cheer.

Americans cashed out hundreds of billions of dollars in home equity as credit came cheap during the housing boom. But with the subprime mortgage mess triggering tighter financing terms and home prices falling in some regions, the trend has slowed, threatening to curb consumer spending.

"When you consider that discounting was widespread during the 2006 holiday shopping season, the forecast of even more discounting this season communicates both a growing anxiety among retailers about reaching sales goals and the potential for value buying for consumers," said BDO Seidman partner Al Ferrara in a statement.

According to the survey, 64 percent of the CMOs said their sales and inventory purchase plans are more cautious this year than a year ago.

The survey, conducted in October, questioned 100 chief marketing officers at U.S. retailers, excluding automotive dealers and restaurants, with annual revenue of more than $100 million.

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