Since Congress now has just three months to find a long-term budget compromise, and since consumers - particularly those furloughed government workers - have little faith in their elected officials these days, consumers this shopping season will probably feel more like the Ebenezer Scrooge at the beginning of "A Christmas Carol" than the one at the end.
"If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they'll remain afraid to open up their checkbooks," S&P said. "That points to another Humbug holiday season."
The National Retail Federation concurs.
Its annual consumer survey, released last week, found the average holiday shopper plans to spend $737.95 on gifts this year, 2 percent less than last year. The survey also said 29 percent of shoppers said Washington's fiscal issues would affect their shopping plans.
"Though the foundation for solid holiday season growth exists, Americans are questioning the stability of our economy, our government and their own finances," said Matthew Shay, president of the retail federation.
"Americans deserve to feel good about spending their hard-earned money on gifts for others, and this holiday season it's evident some could second-guess their spending."
Shay said it is likely consumers will continue to be tight with cash.
With that in mind, it might behoove Congress to work up a bargain before St. Nick boards his ramshackle sleigh.
I bet all of our hearts (and cash registers) would grow three sizes that day.