DETROIT - More than three out of every four shoppers have cut back on spending in some way over the last 12 months to cope with the recession, according to a shopping industry survey.

The survey, conducted to gauge how the recession was affecting consumer behavior, also found that more than half plan to increase spending as the economy improves.

Jeremy Walker, 22, of Wixom, Mich., was laid off from his job making military parts in July. So the six people on his Christmas list will have to make do with less under the tree.

"I'm not spending as much this year," said Walker, while shopping last week in Novi, Mich. "Last year, there was no limit."

The online survey of 2,500 U.S. and Canadian consumers was conducted Oct. 14-18 for the International Council of Shopping Centers. It had a margin of error of 2 percentage points either way.

Shoppers cut back on things like dining out, going to movies, and salon and spa services in the last 12 months. They also reduced shopping trips going to places such as luxury, apparel and department stores less frequently, the survey found.

Fewer people cut back spending in the last 12 months for pure economic reasons such as a job loss than to take precautions in an uncertain economy, the survey found.

Reasons cited to cut spending included a salary cut, 20 percent; job loss, 16 percent; precautionary, 28 percent; and because it seemed like the right thing to do, 23 percent, according to the ICSC survey.

And 21 percent of those surveyed said they had not cut back during the past year. Kylie Mehall, 21, of Livonia, Mich., indicated that she was seeing lower prices on gifts, but wasn't planning to cut her budget much for the 13 people she buys for.

"I haven't really seen a difference in my own funds," Mehall said.

Also buying last week were Sade Ross and friend Lejana Willoughby, both 17 of Warren, Mich. Ross said she saved up from a summer job to buy herself some holiday items. She said that she was using coupons and watching for sales to keep costs down.

Willoughby said she felt justified buying holiday gifts for herself because her mother said she wasn't going to buy anything for her. Instead, family funds would go toward buying her younger brother gifts.

The National Retail Federation has predicted holiday sales would decline by 1 percent this year to $437 billion.

(c) 2009, Detroit Free Press.

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