In a fresh sign of the American consumer's miserly mood, a leading research group reported yesterday that the typical U.S. family plans to spend about $325 on gifts this Christmas, $10 less than a year ago.
The decline in holiday spending projected by the Conference Board was the first since the New York-based business research organization began polling consumers this way in 1987. It also came amid new indications of weakness in the retailing industry.
The Conference Board report was based on a consumer confidence survey conducted in the first two weeks of November of 5,000 families across the country. Fabian Linden, executive director of the Conference Board's consumer research center, hedged the findings by suggesting that confidence could rebound in the weeks before Christmas.