For planners seeking clues into U.S. consumer behavior this shopping season, a new survey detects optimism for both retailers and consumers, 62% of whom said they will spend as much or more as they did last holiday season.

“Our survey data found that shoppers are not only expecting to find great prices and bargains this holiday season, but 59% of consumers plan to start shopping even earlier this year to spread out the impact of purchases, compared to 53% in 2011,” Rojeh Avanesian, vice president of marketing and analytics of PriceGrabber, said in a statement. “Our data indicates that 17% of consumers plan to start their holiday shopping in September and 31% plan to begin in October this year.”

PriceGrabber provides online price comparisons across 25 shopping channels for consumers, millions of whom use it on a regular basis.

The company’s first winter holiday shopping survey was conducted between August 31 and Sept. 12 and includes responses from 2,235 U.S. online shopping consumers.

Of those consumers who indicated that they will spend more money this holiday season compared with last year, 42% said they are making more money this year, 34% attributed their decision to better prices on gifts, 22% said they have confidence in the economy, 13% said they will spend more due to increased credit limit, and 8% said they are just tired of being frugal, the survey found.

When shoppers who indicated they plan to spend less money on holiday shopping in 2012 were asked why, 62% attributed their spending decision to an increase in prices for food, gas and other necessities. Another 41% indicated that they are earning less money this year and 39% said they planned to spend less due to an increased acceptance of giving less-expensive gifts. The state of the economy also continues to impact consumers’ holiday shopping decisions, with PriceGrabber’s survey finding that 64%of shoppers say the economic climate will affect their overall spending.

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