By Tali Arbel, AP Business Writer
A third of U.S. adults said they would spend less this year than they did in 2008 on gifts, while 49% would spend about the same amount, according to a Consumer Reports poll on holiday shopping.
Meanwhile, almost two-thirds of respondents said they were planning to "cut back" on total holiday expenses, which include travel plans, presents and holiday decorations.
More Americans are also "regifting," or passing on a gift they got to someone else — 36% of adults this year say they've done so, compared with 31% last year and 24% in 2007.
The survey polled 1,000 U.S. adults from Oct. 15-18.
It's worth noting, though, that Americans who plan to spend less don't always do so. The survey found that, of those Americans who made a budget for last year's holiday gift buying, 44% spent more than they had intended.
The poll also said 6% of adults are still carry holiday debt from last year, unchanged from 2008. If extrapolated to the broader population of the country, that implies 13.5 million consumers are still carrying debt from last year's holidays.
Clothing and electronics remained the top gifts to give, the survey said.
The survey, conducted randomly by telephone, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.2 percentage points.
More small-business employees can expect no end-of-year bonuses or gifts for 2009.
A recent survey of small business owners or managers showed fewer of them planning gifts or cash for their workers.
"Business owners are still feeling pinched cash-wise," said American Express business adviser Alice Bredin. AmEx's small business division conducted the survey.
Last year, 44% of those surveyed said employees would get an end-of-year bonus. This year, only 31% did. Even fewer are planning raises: 16%, compared with 30% last year.
Meanwhile, in 2008, 46% of owners or managers said employees would get holiday gifts. This year, it's 35%.
The business owners or managers surveyed oversaw companies with fewer than 100 employees.
According to the government's Small Business Administration, companies with under 500 workers employed about half of all private sector employees as of 2006.
The survey also found that, of those still giving a present, 42% said they'll give fewer or cheaper gifts to customers and employees.
The businesses are cutting back on employee compensation and presents before client gifts, Bredin said, because customer presents can be important marketing tools.
"If there are no customers, there is no discussion about employees."
In the survey, nearly half the companies surveyed planned to give presents to customers, about the same as last year. Those surveyed said they would spend $455, on average, on the holiday presents. In 2008, small business owners planned to spend $457 — and in fall 2007, it was an average of $1,483.
In one bit of good news, the survey did show the number of workers who would be getting time off over the holidays remained the same as last year, at 47%.
The random survey of 500 small business owners or managers was conducted over the phone from Oct. 6-14. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.
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