According to the latest reports from this week's New York International Gift Fair, there is renewed activity and anticipation by retailers that consumers will be out there spending this spring.

During the first two days alone, attendance was up noticeably this year. And, while the wholesalers don't release their figures, people appear to be writing a lot of orders. The feeling is generally up, said Jeff Little, executive vice president of George Little Management Inc., which has been producing the show since 1931.Little's firm, which produces 11 such shows nationally each year, sees a general upturn. At the just-closed Chicago show, business was surprisingly good. At other regional shows, the same reports are coming in, said Little. "It seems that most people's negative assessment is based on other people's activity rather than their own."

As to talk of a recession . . . "We've had our best Christmas ever in 14 years, said Lanie Ce-cula, owner of Contemporary Porcelain, designers and manufacturers of expensive dinnerware and functional and decorative ceramics. "However, stores around our Manhattan retail location are not doing well. People are shopping, but they are much more conscientious about their buying."

The negative aspects of the economy appeared to be as much a mood or psychology as real. The turnaround will be fast, especially as the war ends and people are feeling really good about the country, said Little.

- While not all of the nation's economic indicators are good, enough are so that economic optimism is definitely justified.

The revised fourth quarter GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT (GNP) showed a decline of 1.97 percent, less than half the decline most analysts expected and less than the 2.1 percent decline originally reported last month. This followed a 1.4 percent gain during the third quarter.

The decline, some $20.5 billion, was largely the result of dismal auto sales during the final quarter of 1990. Excluding motor vehicles, GNP increased 0.6 percent for the quarter. Personal expenditures for durable goods fell $12.0 billion while nondurables fell $13.8 billion. Government defense spending increased $5.2 billion and service expenditures were up $6.0 billion. Real GNP is 1.2 percent higher than a year ago and 6.4 percent higher than two years ago.