Candy, beverage/alcohol on shopping lists this holiday season

With the nation seemingly emerging from recession, American consumers remain skittish about spending their money during this upcoming holiday season, according to new research from The Nielsen Co.

Households continue to focus on "essential gift giving" such as staple consumables, candy, beverage/alcohol and entertaining at home, and 86 percent said that they expect to spend the same or less this year than last - with a 7 percent increase in those indicating they would spend less, reports CNBC. Overall, Nielsen projects that holiday sales will rise 0.03 percent this year, accounting for $90 billion in dollar sales. 

"Given everything the consumer has absorbed over the past 12 to 18 months, the fact that we expect this coming holiday season to be flat in dollars can be viewed as a modest positive," said James Russo, vice president, global consumer insights at The Nielsen Co. "Americans have undergone a fundamental change in how they spend their money, and the days of stretching finances to make purchases not deemed as necessary are over, at least for the time being.  That said, our research has shown that consumers are looking forward to loosening their purse strings a bit, but only once they feel more confident about the state of the economy and their personal financial situation."  

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