As Americans check holiday presents off their lists and get ready for the holiday season, more say they will increase spending and fewer say they are cutting back on expenses, according to the results of a recent Citi national survey, conducted by Hart Research. Only 35 percent said they would be spending less than last year, reflecting the lowest level of holiday budget cutbacks since the financial crisis. Sixty-three percent of Americans plan to spend more (11 percent) or the same (52 percent) on holiday shopping this year. Consumers’ approximated holiday budgets have reached a high in comparison to recent years. Twenty-nine percent of Americans estimate they will be spending more than $1,000 this holiday season, up from 22 percent in 2011. Amongst those planning on shopping for the holidays, Americans will spend an average of $968, up $60 from 2011. “It’s reassuring to see spending on the rise, since the increase in Americans’ holiday budgets may indicate a more optimistic outlook towards making financial progress in 2014,” said Linda Descano, CFA®, Head of Content and Social, North America Marketing at Citi, and President and CEO of Women & Co., Citi’s personal finance resource for women. Economic Outlook Hits High Point but Anxiety about Debt and Savings Grows Too In June 2013, the Citibank Economic Pulse entered positive territory for the first time since its inception in 2009. The sustained rise from -17 in the summer of 2011 to +1 in the summer of 2013 represented a strong sign that the American economy was recovering and consumers were regaining confidence. The Citibank Economic Pulse decreased from +1 to 0 this quarter, reflecting that discomfort with debt and savings levels weighs on consumers’ minds and tempers their positivity. When asked to reflect on their local economic conditions and personal financial standing, more Americans have a positive outlook. Thirty-seven percent of Americans rate the condition of the economy in their area to be good or excellent, reflecting the highest levels of positivity since the Citibank Economic Pulse began in 2009. Twenty-seven percent of consumers feel that they are better off now than a year ago, up from 20 percent in August 2012. As the countdown to 2014 draws nearer, 69 percent of Americans are optimistic that their personal financial situation will get better in the year ahead.