Americans are in a thrifty mood once again this Christmas season, expecting to buy more gifts that are on sale or discounted, says the Conference Board, as persistently high rates of joblessness and slow economic growth have many pinching their wallets shut.

Still, not all consumers are in a Grinch mood. “They are expected to spend an average of $497 on gifts this holiday season,” says the Conference Board in a new report. Still, the number of consumers dialing back has risen. Just 7% of consumers said they plan to spend more on Christmas gifts this year, versus 40% who plan on spending less than last year, says the Board.

But expect the Robo-shoppers to be out in force at the shopping malls. The board notes “four out of ten holiday shoppers say they expect more than half of their purchases to be on sale or discounted. An additional three out of ten expect a quarter to half of their purchases to be discounted.”

Where are consumers shopping? “Close to two-thirds of consumers expect to purchase a portion of their holiday gifts online, with about 15% saying more than half of their gifts will be purchased online.”

The survey was conducted for the Conference Board by Nielsen, which sells information and analytics about what consumers buy. The survey was conducted in October. 

“As the holiday season approaches, we once again find consumers in a frugal mood,” says Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center in a statement. “With the overwhelming majority of consumers expecting to spend the same or less than they did last year, it’s not surprising that they expect a large share of their purchases to be on sale or discounted.”

Elizabeth MacDonald joined FOX Business Network (FBN) as stocks editor in September 2007.
Follow Elizabeth MacDonald on Twitter @LizMacDonaldFOX.