Consumers, stung by the return of the Social Security tax back to its normal rate (after a 2 year, 2% reduction), as well as fear of federal budget cuts, continued mortgage problems, higher gas prices  and other financial issues, are reluctant to spend.
This from a study conducted by the National Retail Federation and posted on money.cnn.com.  Over 5,100 people were surveyed and their responses provide some insight into the American consumer’s psyche.

More than ¾ of the respondents said that the tax changes would affect their spending.  About a third said that the number of times they go out to dinner will be affected and about ¼ said that entertainment plans, including vacations would be cut back.

Here are a few other things that made the list: holding off on cars and furniture (24.4%), spend less on impulse items or luxury items such as a pedicure (24.5%).

But about a ¼ of those surveyed said that they would look for extra money by reducing energy expenses, by seasonally adjusting the thermostat or by driving less. The other big cost cutting strategy:  clip coupons and shop for more sales.

What are consumers going to do with their tax refunds?  44% said save it and 37% said they would reduce their debt.