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Early holiday shopping could mean big payoff

Posted November 6, 2011

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— Retailers who are already grabbing consumers' attention for Christmas shopping will likely get the largest slice of the holiday sales pie this year, a North Carolina State University economist said Sunday. Shoppers who packed into a Cary boutique also say they hope an early start will mean better bargains.

Cary store owner Mandy Becker said she has seen holiday shoppers at her gift boutique, Swagger, much earlier this year. That was certainly true Sunday morning, when shoppers lined up outside before she opened the doors for her annual holiday open house.

"People are maybe buying lower prices items, but a lot more of them," Becker said. "We saw that we wrapped a lot more items in Christmas paper a lot earlier this year."

Becker, who opened Swagger nine years ago, said she's so confident about having a profitable holiday season that she doubled the size of her store in August.

"The customers are coming and they're spending money," she said. "Knock on wood."

N.C. State economist Michael Walden predicts that an early start to the holiday shopping season will pay off for Becker this year, though increases in overall consumer spending for Christmas will be slight.

Shoppers, retailers start holiday season early Shoppers, retailers start holiday season early

"We're looking at, maybe, a one and half to two percent gain over last year," Walden said.

That's because more consumers have tightened their purse strings as the nation's faltering economy teaches tough lessons year after year.

"Consumers have been doing something they really needed to do over the last decade," Walden said. "They're paring down on debt, paying debt. The saving rate is actually up, but that means they're not spending like they used to."

Alice Spillane said she isn't spending like she used to and she is starting her holiday shopping now so she has plenty of time to find the best bargains.

Amy Thornton agreed.

"I'm terrible about waiting until the last minute and then (spending) all of that money at once," she said. "I thought, if I started early, it wouldn't be such a burden on the pocketbook."


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  • trinity_quickblade Nov 8, 2011

    Even with the economy the way it is, we are all still going to buy presents. Most likely less, but we still will buy. Try to help local companies and buy from small independent stores. Just saying.

  • artist Nov 7, 2011

    "We are not spending jack this holiday season.."

    Same here. This is going to be just like the old days.. one gift wrapped in newspaper funnies.

    Best Xmas' ever!!

  • itsmebaby Nov 7, 2011

    Honestly, I had to start very early this year... like a squirrel, putting away little gifts here and there. Giving is important to me, especially during the holidays. I'm glad retailers are lowering prices.

  • ezLikeSundayMorning Nov 7, 2011

    I tend to spend a little more if I shop too early. I get in the Christmas spirit and pick up a few more things after I was supposed to be done. On the bright side, it is spread out and I don't rack up any debt.

  • wildcat Nov 7, 2011

    What kind of payoff? The unemployed don't have any money to shop with. Are have some forgot that simply because a holday is approaching? Better rethink on that. NO MONEY!

  • tarheelgrad1998 Nov 7, 2011

    Every year, they stretch out the "holiday" season more and more, then are surprised when the "official" holiday season sales numbers are down.

    You might can get people to spend earlier, but that doesn't make them spend more.

  • grimreaper Nov 7, 2011

    We are not spending jack this holiday season...just accumulating cash and being thankful for what we have...

  • Uhavenoclu Nov 7, 2011

    Credit cards are just a poor persons way of making people think they are rich....They cannot pay all of the money for the purchase right away like a debit card or cash can,and checks go out of the account in a couple days.
    Where credit cards takes months to pay for the purchase...hmmm...wouldn't lower credit score be better then higher credit scores then?.

  • Chairman of the Bored Nov 7, 2011

    I'm spending a little less on gifts but that is because I am taking a vacation to Spain. Despite all the airfares are skyrocketing news, there are plenty of deals, just as there are deals at the stores.

  • Uhavenoclu Nov 7, 2011

    I can't wait until next week when they put out the Easter candy so I can get the chocolate bunnies.