Shoppers' holiday budgets to rise just a tad

NEW YORK -- Consumers are expected to only slightly increase their holiday budgets for items like decor, greeting cards and gifts this year compared with a year ago, the nation's largest retail trade group says.

The National Retail Federation says shoppers are expected to spend $749.51 in November and December. That's slightly up from the $740.57 they spent last year.

This year's expected level is the highest since 2007, when shoppers spent on average $755.13. The predictions are based on a survey of almost 9,000 shoppers conducted for the trade group by research firm BIGinsight from Oct. 2 through Oct. 8.

The retail trade group announced earlier this month that it expects sales in November and December to rise 4.1 percent this year. That's more than a percentage point lower than the growth in each of the past two years, and the smallest increase since 2009 when sales were up just 0.3 percent.