How much holiday shopping do you plan on doing?

The holiday season is right around the corner and many consumers across the country may already be getting a head start on purchasing gifts for their friends and family.

Recent polls suggest that holiday spending is likely to go up this year on a per-person basis, but that overall, the number of consumers who will actually buy holiday-related items will probably go down, according to a report from Daily Finance. Consumer shopping sales for the holidays is estimated to rise about 3 percent during November and December on a year-over-year basis, but that foot traffic will likely tumble 2.2 percent.

The reason for this sluggish holiday shopping prediction is obvious: nearly 40 Million Americans still cannot find jobs and those who do have jobs are not confident enough in their personal finances or financial future to splurge on their families and friends for the holidays.

Another contributing factor to why people are being more conservative this year when it comes to holiday shopping is fuel rates.  Although as of the past few months, the price of gasoline per gallon has decreased to $3.43, that price is still significantly higher than just a year ago.  Retailers are realizing that every shopper this shopping season will be more valuable than last year, and retail stores should be prepared to offer their shoppers sales and incentives for coming out and shopping this season.

In a more positive light, consumers are expected to boost the amount of clothing and accessories they purchase, probably by about 2.7 percent which is expected to be the result of planned price drops for most major retailers. Electronic purchases are only expected to rise just 1.2 percent this holiday shopping season compared to last year because fewer manufacturers are offering deals that they may have extended in 2010 when more consumers were struggling financially.

Generally, 2010 was seen as a pretty strong year for holiday shopping, at least when compared to 2008 and 2009, when the season took place during the recession and millions of Americans couldn’t afford to buy all the gifts they wanted. The economic downturn of 2008 has severely changed many consumers’ attitudes toward the way they save and spend their money, as well as budget for big events like holiday shopping.

The money writers at have compiled a list of tips to help you be a smart and savvy shopper this holiday season:

1.  Shop early. Waiting until last minute will only cause you stress, less options and most likely, more money.

2. Do research. Every major retailer has an online website – make sure to utilize these free resources.  Target, Walmart and Publix offer weekly deals on their websites.  You can even sign up to receive text messages or emails about sales as soon as they happen.

3. Make a budget and STICK TO IT! This may be the most crucial part to being a successful holiday shopper.  You have to plan in advance for Halloween outfits, Halloween parties, New Years traveling plans, Thanksgiving potlucks, etc.  If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail.

4.  Read Get the latest news and advice about being a savvy holiday shopper this season by visiting our blog on a weekly basis.  We offer free advice, sales, discounts and tips for getting through the holidays without breaking your bank.