US spending over the holiday period is set to top levels last seen before the recession, according to research from consultancy firm Consumer Growth Partners (CGP).

CGP said that average spending per adult will total US$2330 for the November-December holiday period, up from $2212 in 2010 and topping the record of $2223 set in 2007.

The group said that US consumers have completed a "great reset" in their spending and saving patterns and have now resumed the historic 4-to-5% spending growth "we saw earlier last decade."

CGP said that unlike the mid-2000s, shoppers are managing this without the housing bubble, and without tapping home equity or credit. "Consumers are spending out of current income and cash flow - a much healthier foundation for sound, sustained growth," said CGP president Craig Johnson.

The rebound is being led by traditional "old retail" including department stores, sporting goods, toys and apparel chains, "including the first real return of excitement and newness in fashion since before the recession."

"Over the past couple years we've seen one of the great turnarounds in retail memory in the department store sector - led by two of the grand old names in the sector, Macy's and Nordstrom, each founded over a century ago. Both have reinvented themselves, and have made themselves relevant to a new generation of shoppers - and they are each hitting the ball out of the park," Johnson said.

However, he emphasised that the rebound is not sector-wide. "Sears - which stood like a colossus over the retail landscape as recently as the 1950s, larger than its three biggest competitors combined - is shrinking under poor, non-retailer, management.

"And JC Penney, also lagging for several years, has a whole new team on board, including Apple's Ron Johnson and Target's Mike Francis - but their turnaround will not come until 2012."

Johnson argued that the big suprise this year may be the day after Christmas. "England calls it 'Boxing Day', but it will be a boffo day for American retailers, since the 26th is a Monday, with most offices closed for the three-day weekend.

"Shoppers will still be looking for ‘self-gifting' bargains, but armed with gift cards, consumers are much more likely to pay full price for the new merchandise that smart retailers will put on the floor for the post-Christmas crowds.

"For apparel and department stores that stay open until Midnight, December 26th may even be bigger than Black Friday."