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Untightening

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Americans are slowly opening their wallets this holiday season.
Consumers have increased their retail spending 24% in November and the outlook for planned purchasing in December is strong. The Past 30-Day Retail Index for November is now 11.2 while over the next 30 days it is projected to increase 36%. Consumer sentiment, however, remains low and relatively steady over the past three months at 41.8 in December, down slightly from 42.2 in November. This, according to the “Consumer Reports Index Dec ’09” report, also shows the low but stable consumer sentiment numbers are tied to the Consumer Reports “Trouble Tracker Index,” which has stalled at 62.0 and has been on the decline since September, thanks in part to the 37.2% of Americans reporting one or more financial difficulties up from 35.6% in November. These difficulties include 15.7% unable to afford medical bill or medications; 13.4% facing increased credit card interest rate, penalty fees, etc; 9.4% having missed payment on a major bills; 7.9% experiencing lost or reduced healthcare coverage; and 7.4% having lost their job.

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