Early holiday shopping could mean big payoff
Posted November 6, 2011
Cary, N.C. — 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.
"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."