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U.S. consumers to be 'careful' this holiday shopping season

As Americans reel from a tepid economic recovery rife with unemployment, uncertainty and consumer debt, it's no surprise that they are looking to be more frugal and careful with their spending this holiday shopping season.

According to a report released this week by consulting firm Accenture, nearly three quarters of U.S. consumers - 72 percent - expect their holiday shopping to be "careful" or "controlled" this year. However, an overwhelming majority - 88 percent - expect to spend the same or more than they did in 2010. Additionally, the report concluded, high-income shoppers may pick up the slack in spending from low-income consumers looking to cut back on their budgets.

"This holiday season will see the balance of power continue to tip in favor of the consumer," said Janet Hoffman, managing director of Accenture's Retail practice. "'Precision shoppers' will dominate. They will be very targeted about where and what they buy, and will be more inclined to shop around for the best value."

Stores should focus on providing services that elicit or imply added value in the minds of shoppers, Hoffman added.