In its annual survey of shoppers, NRF found that consumers are expecting to spend an average of $923.26 on holiday gifts, a 3.7 percent increase over last year's figure of $890.32. The growth from 2005 to 2006 was 7.2 percent, by comparison.
"Shoppers will be a little more conservative with their spending as they become more aware of the softness in the economy," said NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin in a statement.
"It is safe to say that many retailers will be competing on price, causing this holiday season to be very promotional."
The NRF forecast last month that total U.S. holiday retail sales would rise 4 percent to $474.5 billion this year, marking their slowest gain in five years as the weak housing market and a credit crunch temper consumer spending.
Many U.S. retail chains, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) and Target Corp (TGT.N), last week reported September monthly sales that missed Wall Street's expectations.
The NRF consumer survey found that 38.2 percent of respondents said that sales or price discounts would be the most important factor to them when deciding where to shop -- up from 36.5 percent a year ago.
(NRF's original release can be seen here.)