Retailers are only expecting modest gains this retail season. "The National Retail Federation is predicting that sales will only be 4% higher this year than they were last year," says AuWerter. If that prediction holds, this will be the slowest retail growth we've seen in five years. "Even that estimate may be a bit optimistic," says AuWerter.
Many consumers are concerned about rising oil prices, the sinking housing market and the tightening credit situation. But that hasn't stopped retailers from bringing out holiday decorations earlier than ever. "Walmart really rolled it out this year by starting their holiday promotions three weeks early," says AuWerter. "The silver lining here is that consumers really are going to see very agressive pricing this holiday season." That means bigger discounts before the holidays, which means better prices for cautious consumers.
Many parents are worried about recent toy recalls. AuWerter feels that these fears will fuel technology spending this December. "Prices are coming down," says AuWerter. Flat screen TV's are just one example where you can save this season. "Folks either already have one or they're in the market for one," says AuWerter. "We've reached the tipping point there." Video games will also be big because parents don't have to worry about lead-based paint.
But with great deals, people can be tempted to overspend. That can be hard on your wallet when the credit card bills come in the mail in January. AuWerter suggests making a list and sticking to it. "Do it right now, and don't just focus on the gifts," says AuWerter. "Focus on the travel, the entertaining, the party clothes."
For more information on holiday spending, as well as other personal financial advice, click here.
By Erin Petrun