Shoppers intend to spend more or the same as last year during the holiday season, but US retailers face a “tricky” period, according to a new survey.

The NPD Group’s annual Holiday Spending Survey found that fewer consumers said they would spend less this holiday season, with the majority intending to spend the same as or more than last year.

“Consumers are feeling better about the economy compared to last year and they plan to take advantage of sales during key periods,” said Marshal Cohen, NPD’s chief industry analyst.

“But this year’s holiday will be a tricky one for retailers.

“With fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, government distractions, and lack of newness in the marketplace, retailers will have to rely more on promotions to excite the consumer.”

Consumers’ top pre-purchase actions remain comparison shopping and comparing prices online, with one-third saying they plan to buy all their holiday gifts in sales.

Meanwhile, more consumers have this year already started their shopping, or plan to do so before Thanksgiving.

“Consumers who plan to shop early expect the retailers to respond with extended store hours, and better deals offered earlier,” said Cohen.

“Researching online for the best deals will play a bigger role this year, with social media continuing to influence consumers’ holiday purchases.”