October 3, 2011, 2:39 PM

45% of online shoppers say they’ll cut back on holiday spending this year

And 70% of shoppers in a new survey expect retailers to offer discounts.

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The struggling economy will lead 45% of online shoppers to spend less this holiday shopping season than they did last year, according to a survey from comparison shopping engine PriceGrabber.com.

The company surveyed 3,070 U.S. online shoppers in mid-September and also found that 49% of respondents plant to spend the same amount this holiday season and about 6% will spend more this year.

For those who plan to spend less, 70% cite as the reason rising prices for food, gas and other necessities, PriceGrabber says. 49% say they plan to purchase less expensive gifts; 46% cite a lack of confidence in the economy; 43% say it was due to their earning less money this year; and 37% say declining home and savings account values will contribute to lower holiday spending this year. Survey respondents were able to give more than one reason for their spending plans.

For shoppers who plan to spend more this year, 27% attribute their decision to retailers offering better prices; 25% say they are earning more money this year; 14% say they have confidence in the economy; 7% are tired of being frugal; and 5% percent have found employment in the past year.

53% of consumers plan to start holiday shopping earlier this year than last and 70% believe retailers will offer better prices and discounts than last year because they recognize consumers are struggling financially, the survey shows.

When asked what retailers would have to do to earn their business this holiday season respondents gave answers that included price cuts (75% of respondents), free shipping (75%) coupons (51%) and blowout sales (39%). Consumers could give more than one answer.

“The economy’s resistance to improve significantly will give retailers added incentive to lower their prices, especially as consumers have become savvier since the beginning of the economic downturn,” says Graham Jones, general manager of PriceGrabber.

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