MINNETONKA, Minn. - A new report from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse shows that holiday shopping increased just 0.7 percent this year compared to last.
The increase was way below the expected three to four percent projections.
Anne McCarthy, Dean of Hamline University's School of Business, said Wednesday that those numbers are preliminary, but she does think shoppers are being cautious this year.
Retailers hope Americans boost those numbers with vigorous post-Christmas shopping.
At Ridgedale on Wednesday, it wasn't easy to find a parking spot. There were plenty of shoppers using gift cards and holiday cash, most of them looking for good deals. And there were plenty of items on sale as retailers look to move merchandise off the shelves.
John Tulbane was there with his three daughters using gift cards at the Build-A-Bear workshop. He said the uncertain economy has him and his wife trying to spend wisely.
"I think we were close to what we spent in the last couple years, but we were more mindful of sales and coupons this year than we have been, and a lot more internet shopping than we have done in the past," he said.
McCarthy believes people are watching what they spend due to, "Worry about the economy, worry about jobs and we've become more frugal, don't you think, over the past four years? We're just a bit more like my grandparents' generation, ones that lived through the depression."
McCarthy says the looming fiscal cliff has people worried the money in their paychecks will shrink in January. She also believes people are worried about job security.
She said times may be a little better than in the previous few years, but there's often a delay when it comes to consumer confidence.
McCarthy said there's a delay in people pulling back spending when times get tough and there's a delay in spending again when times get better.
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