CNBC News Releases

Consumers Hang Tough this Holiday Season Despite Hard Times, According to CNBC's Exclusive "Holiday Central" Survey

Jennifer Dauble

ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., December 17, 2007-With just a week to go until Christmas, CNBC's exclusive "Holiday Central" survey reveals the American consumer won't allow declining home prices and negative views on the economy dampen their holiday spending this year.

While 72% of Americans are downbeat on the economy, 60% say it won't have an impact on their holiday spending. Lucky for retailers, such negative views on the economy shave only about $30 off of spending plans or 4% less. Americans plan to spend on average about $782 this holiday season, up 6.4% from last year, but down 16% from October when the survey was last taken.

According to the "Holiday Central" survey, the housing slump appears to be a major reason for the negative economic outlook. The percentage of American homeowners expecting an increase in the value of their homes has declined to 34% from 48% in CNBC's "Wealth in America" poll released in March. While the percentage expecting a decrease has risen to 16% from 9%, half of Americans look for their home prices to stay the same, up from 43% in March.

Of Americans who believe home prices will decrease in the next 12 months, 23% say they will spend less than the average American on holiday shopping. Of Americans who rate the economy as "poor," 13% will spend less than the average American during the holiday season. Despite these "Grinch" factors, 45% of Americans are spending what they had budgeted and a third are spending less than planned.

As for what Americans are buying, there is no question when it comes game consoles; last holiday season, Americans were split as to which console they wanted. But this year, amongst American consumer s who have a specific one in mind, nearly 80% are looking for a Wii. And while nearly half of Americans won't have leftover debt following their shopping during the holiday season, 23% will still be in debt more than two months into 2008.

Conducted by Hart-McInturff, the same group responsible for the renowned NBC/Wall Street Journal political polls, the Holiday Central Survey closely tracks consumer trends, big box discounters, online sales and the factors affecting overall spending.

CNBC's Senior Economics Reporter Steve Liesman will reveal the results of the survey on Monday, December 17th on CNBC's "Squawk Box," (6AM-9AM ET). Coverage of the survey will be featured throughout CNBC's Business Day programming and online at

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