Christmas 2010 Could be Merriest Since Recession: CNBC Survey
Christmas 2010 could turn out to be the merriest since the recession began, with the exclusive CNBC All-America Economic Survey finding Americans somewhat more optimistic but real optimism remains elusive.
The survey of 800 people of all income groups, regions and walks of life finds that pessimism is down across the nation, but Americans will still hold a tight grip on their holiday spending dollars, with only a small increase in spending compared to last year.
Just over half of the survey respondents judge the current state of the economy as poor, but the 53 percent figure is the lowest reading since February 2008.
About 20 percent of the nation expects the economy to get worse over the next year, well below the 43 percent reading registered during the height of the recession in June 2008 and the lowest reading in three years.
Yet, just 7 percent judge the current state of the economy as excellent or good and just 37 percent believe it will improve next year, virtually unchanged from October and last Christmas.
Among other findings of the survey:
A very Apple-y Christmas: One in six Americans plan to give or receive an Apple product for the holidays; for upper income groups, the figure is one in four.
The wealthy get thrifty: 60 percent of Americans say they’ll spend more this Christmas than last year, up from 50 percent in 2009.
But the average amount they plan to spend is up 0.7 percent compared to actual spending last year. One reason for the small increase: the wealthy seem to be getting more thrifty.
No stocks in the stockings: The holiday season finds Americans still down on the stock market with 46 percent saying it’s a bad time to invest. It’s an improvement from the 51 percent who were negative in October.
But rather than getting optimistic, Americans became more uncertain. The percentage saying they were unsure about whether to invest in stocks rose to 19 percent from 12 percent in October.
More upbeat on wage gains and home values: For the first time since 2007, average Americans believe their home prices will rise in the next year. American optimism about wage gains over the next 12 months hit a two-year high, with an expected gain of 2.1 percent, up from 1.3 percent a year ago.