More than half of Los Angeles area shoppers are bullish on the economy heading into next year but they plan to be more frugal in the 2012 gifting season, according to a survey released on Tuesday.

Bottom line? It's going to be a mixed Christmas bag, said Deloitte's 27th annual Holiday Mood Survey.

Fifty-six percent of shoppers surveyed expect better economic prospects in 2013 versus 31 percent in last year's survey, Deloitte said.

But holiday budgets are being trimmed by 12 percent in the Southern California, according to the survey.

"Retailers have a reason to celebrate and be hopeful for the future as we see signs that consumers' outlooks are improving," said Jackie Fernandez, a partner at Deloitte & Touche LLP who focuses on the retail and distribution sector.

But there are some concerns lurking in the background that could temper shoppers' enthusiasm as the holiday season plays out.

They include higher gas prices, some lingering concerns about how the "fiscal cliff" situation will play out and how much personal finances will improve, she said.

And the shopping experience will be stretched out because there is one more weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year than in 2011.

Robert Kleinhenz, chief economist at the Kyser Center for Economic Research in Los Angeles, is expecting retail holiday spending to increase by about 4 percent this year.

Shoppers are simply in a better mood.

"That reflects a better economy, lower unemployment and more people having a job," he said.


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The wallet tightening Deloitte senses for Southern California shoppers is double the national average of a 6 percent cut.

Consumers here plan to spend $1,485 during the holiday season, down from $1,688 in 2011. But the decline is concentrated on the amount spent on social functions.

Households will spend on average $381 on social activities this year, down from $481 in 2011, the survey said.

While shoppers may spend less overall this holiday season they are not going to cut back on buying gifts for friends, family and loved ones. Consumers plan to spend $430 on an average of 12.6 gifts in 2012, up from $411 on an average of 12.9 gifts in 2011.

And there is another wild card for retailers.

Omnichannel shoppers - those who use multiple channels in their holiday shopping like stores, online and mobile devices - plan to spend 79 percent more on gifts than store-only shoppers, the survey found.

Consumers who plan to shop via the Internet, their smartphones and stores this holiday season expect to spend $604 compared to $338 for those who plan to shop only in stores, according to the survey.

Deloitte's survey also found that 47 percent of consumers plan to shop online, 39 percent plan to visit discount stores, 36 percent expect retailers to match prices, 28 percent will shop "Black Friday" and 28 percent plan to shop after Christmas Day.

Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, a company that measures foot traffic, is expecting a good holiday season.

ShopperTrak is forecasting a 2.8 percent increase in foot traffic over the holidays.

"That's remarkable because that's the first time since 2006 we're seeing an increase in foot traffic during the holiday season," he said.

Deloitte's survey was conducted online by an independent research company between Sept. 14 and 24, 2012. The survey polled a sample of 5,089 consumers.

greg.wilcox@dailynews.com

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