Holiday spending is expected to increase this year, as a new report indicates that more Americans are finally seeing a little reprieve from the last four years of economic anxiety.

The latest Consumer Reports index reveals that the number of people experiencing financial hardships entering this holiday season is down nearly 12 points, the lowest index reading since spring 2009, according to the report.

Surprisingly, the largest upswing in financial stability appears to be among those families earning a combined household income between $50,000 and $99,000 a year. And while middle-class citizens experienced the most positive growth, families earning less still showed a slight improvement, with a drop in the index of nearly six points.

The Consumer Retail index, which works to predict future consumer spending, paints an optimistic picture for retailers this holiday season. Holiday gifts like personal electronics and small appliances are all showing improvements this month.

"There is reason for optimism this month, with financial difficulties in decline and sentiment moving upward," said Ed Farrell, director of consumer insight at the Consumer Reports National Research Center. "These are very heartening signs for retailers, especially as we get into the all-important holiday shopping season."

Overall, more Americans seem to be ready to get on with their lives this holiday season, even with only a meager sign of recovery in their back pockets.

[Business News Daily]