Santa will be in a very jolly mood this year thanks to a strong American economy and the slow, but sure, migration to Internet shopping. American shoppers are projected to spend $1,558 for gifts, entertaining, decorations and travel during the upcoming holiday season. The annual American Express Retail Index says US consumers will crank up spending by 16% this year, marking the highest annual growth in holiday spending since the survey was introduced in 1995. Of the 800 consumers surveyed, 26% said they planned to use the Internet in some way this holiday season. Among those who said they will shop on-line, almost half (42%), say it is their first time using the Internet to buy holiday gifts. For those who said they will not shop on-line, 47% cited not having access to a computer or the Internet; 21% said they prefer to actually see the item; while others are concerned about online security (20%), privacy (16%), and return policies (10%). The AmEx survey indicates shoppers will use a combination of cash (89%), checks (45%), credit cards (59%), and ATM/debit cards (16%) to pay for holiday purchases. Of those using credit cards, 52% will pay the total balance when the bill arrives. In addition, 24% of credit card users said they are using plastic to pay for purchases in order to earn reward points for their holiday spending, while 12% plan to redeem credit card reward program points to obtain gifts. By the way, AmEx says this year’s hottest toy is Pokemon. For more information visit www.americanexpress.com.