More than half of consumers surveyed blame the economy for denting their holiday budgets. And nearly 3 in 10 fault the political bickering on Capitol Hill for cutting into their merrymaking plans.
The average consumer will spend $737.95 on gifts, decor and greeting cards, 2 percent less than the $752.24 shelled out last year. Of more than 6,000 survey respondents, nearly 80 percent said they intended to spend less overall during the season.
The value of gifts for family members is projected to slide 2 percent from last year. Earlier this month, the federation had projected that holiday sales would hit $602.1bn.
Also, the Standard & Poor's credit rating agency sketched a bleak picture in a report. "If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they'll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks," Standard & Poor's researchers wrote. "That points to another humbug holiday season."