Americans Less Skittish on Holiday Spending

holiday sales
FILE - In this Dec. 11, 2009 file photo, a sidewalk sign advertises a holiday sale on Newbury Street in Boston. Figures released Wednesday, Dec. 16 from research firm ShopperTrak, which tracks retail sales at more than 50,000 outlets, showed holiday sales rose 1.1 percent for the week ended Saturday compared with last year, as consumers are spending more after a post-Thanksgiving lull. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

A new CBS News poll finds that Americans have grown slightly less skittish about holiday spending than in the past two years, though they are still far from eager to spend more than they have in the past.

Just nine percent of Americans say they will spend more this year - a slight increase from five percent who said as much in 2009 and the four percent who said so in 2008. Fifty-one percent say they will spend about the same amount this year.

Thirty-nine percent, meanwhile, said they would spend less. That's a drop of 16 points from the 55 percent who vowed to spend less last year, and a sign that Americans have become slightly less nervous about opening their wallets.

Unsurprisingly, those earning less will be spending less. Forty-eight percent of Americans with household incomes under $50,000 say they will spend less on holiday gifts this season, but that number drops to 34 percent among those who earn between $50,000 and $100,000 a year, and to just 24 percent among those with incomes over $100,000.

A majority of those earning $50,000 or more will spend about the same amount of money this holiday season as they have in past years.

Among those who are not meeting their bills and obligations (28 percent of Americans), 57 percent will spend less money on gifts this year.

This poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,067 adults nationwide, interviewed by telephone November 29-December 2, 2010. Phone numbers were dialed from RDD samples of both standard land-lines and cell phones. The error due to sampling for results based on the entire sample could be plus or minus three percentage points. The error for subgroups is higher.

This poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.