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Cautious Shoppers Still Set to Spend

The holidays are a favorite time for Zarline Scott, who delights in giving gifts to her six grandchildren. This year, Scott, a retired assistant principal, plans to add something extra to her presents: a lesson in economics.

"I told my youngest granddaughter to pick out three or four things, but expect only one,” says Scott, 73, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Scott will spend less this season due to the housing market crunch: She has been trying to sell a house without success.

According to a National Retail Federation survey conducted in October, consumers age 65 and older plan to spend $827.25 for holiday-related shopping this year—compared with $847.67 in 2007. The predicted drop in 65-plus spending runs counter to the survey’s overall results. Americans will spend an average of $832.36 on holiday-related shopping this year—an increase of less than 2 percent from last year’s $816.70.

And the survey results for people ages 55 to 64 should leave retailers happy. They are expected to spend $50 more this season than last year. BIGresearch, which conducted the NRF survey, says the increase may be because more people in that age group have part-time jobs and collect retirement benefits.