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Despite an economic slowdown, more Americans will celebrate July Fourth this year than in 2008, according to the National Retail Federation's (NRF) 2009 Independence Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey. The survey, which was conducted by BIGresearch, found that 62.6 percent (144 million people) will either host or attend a cookout, barbecue or picnic, an increase from the 61.2 percent (139 million people) in 2008. The study also revealed that attendance at local fireworks or community celebrations will rise by 2.5 percent this year, compared to 40.2 percent in 2008. About 11.5 percent of people will attend a parade, and 11.4 percent will either travel or take a vacation for the July Fourth holiday. Additionally, 14 percent of consumers most likely will purchase additional patriotic merchandise, including American flags, patriotic apparel, July Fourth decorations and car decals. The survey also shows that growing gas prices are influencing 44.5 percent of Americans' July Fourth plans. “With July Fourth falling on Saturday this year, many Americans will use the holiday as the perfect excuse to relax with family and friends,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch. “With gas prices on the rise again, some Americans will opt to spend the weekend close to home, taking advantage of neighborhood gatherings and local celebrations.” NRF's survey polled 8,635 consumers to determine behavior and shopping trends related to the holiday.