NPD's annual survey of consumers' holiday spending habits has revealed that 26 per cent of those questioned plan to spend less this festive season.
This is compared to 18 per cent who said they planned to spend less in 2007.
"This eight per cent decline illustrates that consumers are already focused on the idea of spending less," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. "For the first time I am predicting flat to declining sales for the holiday season. With consumers already saying they plan to spend less, stores with lean inventories, those inventories on sale as soon as they hit the floor and tightening credit both for businesses and consumers, where can growth come from?"
However, 63 per cent of those surveyed are still planning to spend around the same as last year, with apparel (49 per cent), toys (37 per cent), movies (29 per cent) and books (27 per cent) all popular.
NPD has highlighted two items which could be bright spots of the season, however: televisions and sunglasses.
This was the last full year for analog TV reception and NPD research shows consumers may be looking to purchase new digital sets: "With prices at all time lows and not all wanting to deal with signal conversion boxes, we could see some good news here," said Cohen.
Meanwhile, sunglasses could be something of a sleeper category. "The younger market is all over them and the bigger the logo the better. They are the most sought after item by young adults and will surely be their most desired gift. Sunglasses will be this year's handbag."