Two-thirdsof U.S. consumers have yet to finish their holiday shopping, and 41percent expect to finish at least a week prior to Christmas, accordingto a new survey.
One-fourthof consumers will be shopping the week leading into Christmas,including Christmas Eve, according to the first annual American ExpressSpending and Saving Tracker research report.
"Actually,we found in this holiday season there is this game of watching andwaiting ... that deals will get sweeter as the clock winds down," said Mona Hamouly, a spokeswoman for the report.
Some 62 percent of consumers are waiting until the last minute to shop for the holiday.
Thirty-onepercent are waiting for the best deals before finishing their shopping,while about 20 percent plan to do so at the last minute because theyare still saving or are busy, and one in 10 say they are waiting forthat last pay check before the holidays.
Hamouly said consumers seem to be "managing their cash flow and seeking out those great deals" this year.
Overthe next 30 days, 65 percent of people expect to spend the same or morethan they spent in the past 30 days and one-third intend to spend less,according to the survey prepared for American Express.
Hamouly said the weak economy was a large factor in consumers' attitude toward shopping, with many feeling cash-strapped.
In addition to a general sample of consumers, the survey targeted two sub-groups--those designated as "affluents" and "young professionals."
Affluentswere defined as having a minimum annual household income of 100,000,while young professionals were those who were less than 30 years old,had a college degree and a minimum annual household income of 50,000.
Duringthe next 30 days, among consumers who expect to spend more, 56 percentsay they will be spending the most on holiday gifts.
Morethan 40 percent expect to spend less in the next month because they aretrying to save money, the prices of goods have increased, or they wantto maintain a budget. One-third cite the need to reduce their debt.
"Even for the affluent population, they want to get the best deals too," Hamouly said.
The two top items consumers will be buying over the next 30 days are groceries and holiday gifts.