Holiday shoppers not expecting to spend much more this year than last year

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     A person passes a retail store with sale sign displayed in the window in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

    A person passes a retail store with sale sign displayed in the window in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, file)

    If Black Friday failed to put enough of a dent in your wallet, Cyber Monday beckons. Will this be a boffo year for retailers? Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, shares his observations.

    The latest information on shopping intentions, in a historical context, indicates that this will be a reasonable year with a modest increase over 2013, but not a great year for holiday spending. 

    And — sorry, kids — the No. 1 category of gifts this year is clothing. Though it is followed behind by gift cards, toys and books. At the bottom of the gift-giving list this year: jewelry, car accessories, travel accessories, and music.

    A lot of shopping will be online this year rather than in person. What are the greatest advantages — and disadvantages — of shopping online? Respondents say online shopping is more convenient, it’s easier, it takes less time, and it offers a better selection better selection. However, retail wins out in two areas: the cost of getting the merchandise home and the ability to see in person if merchandise is a good fit.

    Anticipating a lot of heavy family meals, many Americans may be anticipating a renewal of their gym memberships. About 51 percent say they want to lose weight (a few years ago, it was more like 60 percent) — yet only 36 percent of Americans consider themselves to be overweight. And only 26 percent are actively trying to lose weight.

    The average American woman says her ideal weight is about 137 lbs. The average man: 182 lbs. In reality, the average woman weighs about 157 lbs, and the average man weights about 193 lbs.

    Finally, new ratings of a list of 12 government agencies shows that Americans are most positive about the job being done by the U.S. Postal Service, and least positive about the Veterans’ Administration. Seventy-two percent say the USPS is doing an excellent or good job, followed by the FBI, the CDC (which has notably dropped 10 points following the Ebola scare), and NASA. 

    The worst government agencies, as rated by Americans, are the IRS, the Federal Reserve board, and the Veteran’s Administration.

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