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“What we found is anxiety levels had returned to prerecession levels,” Ms. Mack said of the JWT study. “Consumer anxiety, while still high, is dropping, which I think is a good sign for the season ahead. Hopefully for retailers, that will translate over the holidays.”

Another emerging consumer trend is “the urgency economy,” she said. Online sites such as and, which offer time-sensitive deals, have become increasingly popular ways to drive consumers to do business.

Soon, she said, that online strategy will be headed offline and to the mall.

“We are predicting that this sense of urgency will move to the brick-and-mortar world,” said Ms. Mack, noting that many stores are already announcing specials ahead of the Black Friday shopping kickoff. “I think you will see more this holiday season where there will be limited time deals to entice shoppers to shop now, generating excitement for some product.

“Ironically, this ‘act now’ approach is going to help nudge people back to prerecessionary spend-now, think-later ways,” she said. “They won’t be as mindful as they have been over the last couple of years because they will be enticed to act on deals.”

Tom Aiello, division vice president of media relations for Sears and Kmart, said his stores have mobile-phone applications that, among other things, let people order goods online but pick them up in person, as part of their shopping trips.

“You can have it shipped to you or have it ready for an in-store pickup or a curbside pickup,” he said. “That convenience factor is going to be a big trend for retailers.”

Online retail giant began offering Monday an iPhone application that lets shoppers compare Amazon merchandise’s price with the cost of the same item at a brick-and-mortar store. Customers will then have the option to order the item instantly via Amazon.

In a process that Mr. Aiello jokingly dubbed “e-haggle,” customers at Kmart and Sears websites also can follow the price of merchandise and place an order that takes effect only when the item reaches that price.

“As opposed to customers going out and finding a deal, now the deals are finding the customer,” he said.

Other signs of renewed consumer spending come from eMarketer, a newsletter that tracks online business. According to a report published in Brandweek magazine, holiday e-commerce is expected to rise by 14.3 percent this year, “marking the second straight year of double-digit e-commerce growth.”

The newsletter noted the convenience of shopping online and deal-finding capabilities that the Web provides for those hoping to be frugal as the economy improves. Online sales, it added, should make up to nearly a fourth of all retail sales in 2010.

MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse, which also tracks spending in brick-and-mortar stores, reported increases in spending on jewelry (8.1 percent), other luxury goods (6.7 percent) and clothing (9.7 percent) from Nov. 1 to Nov. 13 this year versus the same period in 2009.

As these economic surveys and anecdotal signs show easing for retailers, some Americans say they will remain cautious. Kelly McLaughlin Sofaly, a mother of three from Irwin, Pa., said she will make no credit card purchases for the holiday — only cash — and limit her gift-giving as a commitment to her ongoing thrift.

“My siblings and I no longer exchange gifts, but we do buy gifts for each other’s children,” said Ms. Sofaly, 50, a construction inspector. She will buy her two sons a large gift to share and a few presents for her daughter. “I’m fortunate that my kids are satisfied with a few gifts.”

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