By Karen Axelton

The National Retail Federation predicts holiday spending will decrease by 1 percent (to $437.6 billion) this year compared to last. A survey from the NRF/BIG Research found the average shopper plans to spend $682.74 on holiday-related purchases this year–3.2 percent below last year’s $705.01.

However, consumers surveyed plan to spend more on food and candy this year, up about $10 to $90.26. Phil Rist, EVP of Strategic Initiatives For BIG Research, says, “Homemade food gifts are a way to reduce the budget and show that personal touch, as opposed to simply buying someone a cheaper gift. You know that gift is going to be used.” While gift card sales in general are expected to decline this holiday season, sales of food-related gift cards are projected to rise: “They’re seen as very practical.”

The most common way people are responding to economic pressures is by cutting their holiday budget (84.2 percent). Respondents also said they will be shopping for sales more often (55.0 percent), using more coupons (41.7 percent), buying more practical gifts (36.0 percent), buying a joint gift for kids or parents (17.3 percent), and making more of their gifts (16.7 percent).

Some 65 percent of respondents said the economy will affect their holiday plans. Price is the most important factor to 43 percent of survey respondents when it comes to holiday purchases. In fact, one in 10 holiday shoppers (11.4 percent) said they plan to buy gifts or other holiday-related merchandise at thrift stores or resale shops.