It'll Be a Banner Holiday -- for Homemade Fruitcake

Expect More From-Scratch Gifts, Less Largess for Friends, Co-Workers

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NEW YORK ( -- After a year of dismal sales, retailers are hoping for a happy holiday. But consumers will be more price-conscious than ever, hunting for deals and looking to stretch diminished budgets. So what will that mean for Christmas yet to come? Look for Christmas Creep to be even more prevalent this year, the return of the homemade gift and the disappearance of Secret Santa exchanges. Here are some other trends to expect.

The season of Scrooge

According to Accenture, 63% of consumers will set a budget this year, compared to 54% last year -- and in those budgets, there's less room for friends and co-workers. To maintain the amount of money they typically spend on family members, 5% of consumers are cutting out gifts for friends, while 8% are eliminating co-workers from their holiday lists.

Christmas in July ... well, August

Some 32% of consumers plan to complete the majority of their purchases Thanksgiving weekend, according to Google/OTX. Searches for "Black Friday" began the week of Aug. 2, in fact, a month earlier than last year. Still, thanks to diminished inventory, this season will be "a dance between retailers trying to convince shoppers to shop early because products really are at a premium and consumers expecting big sales and deals," said Ellen Davis, VP at the National Retail Federation.

Making a list and checking it twice

The focus will be on price and practicality this holiday season, with more people making purchase decisions based on discounts and giving necessities as gifts. Electronics retailers will be hardest hit, with nearly 6% fewer consumers planning to shop there this year. And gift cards, a useful though somewhat mundane gift, continue to dominate wish lists. Gifts of food, meanwhile, are gaining traction.

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