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by Jayne O'Donnell
USAToday.com

There are signs the chill on holiday spending is beginning to thaw.

Consumers may not be giving gifts like it’s 2006 again (before the Great Recession), but new surveys suggest some will spend a bit more and start giving presents that people want rather than simply need this year.

Think jewelry, rather than slippers and sweaters.

“It’s not all about being cheap this year,” says Pam Goodfellow of BIGresearch, which does consumer polling for the National Retail Federation.

The conclusions in various consumer surveys about holiday spending differ a bit, though no one’s predicting a big uptick in shopping late this year. But beyond the predictions for unchanged or only slightly improved sales are other indications of a rebound. The National Retail Federation predicts holiday spending this year will be up 2.3%, but the percentage of people who said the economy would affect their spending decreased from 65.3% last year to 61.7% this year.

Several of the companies conducting surveys also see evidence that gift purchases will start to lean more toward discretionary than necessity. For example, the percentage of those who will ask for jewelry this year is up 13%, according to NRF, and the percentage who will buy at least one gift from a discounter is down.

There will be “a bit of a return to normal or the ‘new normal,’ ” NRF spokeswoman Ellen Davis says.

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