Six in 10 U.S. consumers say a recession is likely in the next three to six months, a new survey on holiday spending said Wednesday.
In the telephone survey for Reuters by America's Research Group, 45.7 percent of 1,000 respondents said a recession was "somewhat likely" and 14.3 percent said "very likely." Forty percent said a recession was "not likely."
The interviews were conducted on Nov. 1-4. The error factor is plus or minus 4.3 percent.
Recession fears ahead of the holiday shopping season have been kindled by concerns about jobs and the U.S. housing meltdown.
Still, even with questions about the strength of the economy, the wealthy seem intent on spending for the holidays no matter what.
For those who said they will spend more than $1,000 this holiday season, 46.8 percent said nothing could make them spend less than they planned for Christmas.
China-Made Toys Shunned
Loss of job or income would cut back spending for 20.5 percent of the highest spenders, while an unexpected bill would cause 10.7 percent to cut back, the survey said.
"There's hardly anything that is going to stop the luxury consumer from spending," Britt Beemer, chairman and founder of America's Research Group, said.
Consumers in general are skittish about buying toys from China in the wake of high-profile recalls of toys made there.
They are also willing to pay more for the same toy if it was made in the United States, the survey said.
Only 10.7 percent of respondents said they would buy toys that are made in China for Christmas, while 66.9 percent said they would not and 22.4 percent said they did not know.
About 67.4 percent said they were willing to pay more for a U.S.-made toy. Of those who would pay more 17.6 percent said they would pay a premium of $5 or less and 28 percent said they would pay a premium of $6 to $10.
But the concern does not spread to other products. Only 19.1 percent said they would not buy apparel, video cameras or electronics that are made in China.
Also from the survey, gift cards continue to grow in popularity, with almost 70 percent saying they would buy a gift card. The average amount to be spent is $164 on gift cards, compared with about $120 a year ago, the survey said.