However, that does not mean Hicks-Beta is doing a lot of spending. Her husband recently was laid off from his job.
"We have to be very careful this holiday season about our spending – whereas in previous years, we may have been a little more relaxed,” Hicks-Beta said.
“A lot of retailers are nervous,” said Jon Bohlmann, a marketing professor at North Carolina State University.
Americans are expected to spend 50 percent less this year, according to the American Research Group. To get them to change their minds, Bohlmann said stores are advertising big sales traditionally offered after Thanksgiving.
"So instead of 25 percent discounts, they are doing 40 to 50 percent discounts,” Bohlmann said.
Other stores are pushing easier ways to pay, such as the 18-month plan at Best Buy. Sears and K-mart are hyping layaway options popular in the 1980s.
Forty-five percent of consumers report that they plan to shop on Black Friday or during the weekend after Thanksgiving, according to a International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) survey. Those shoppers also plan to do 81 percent of their holiday shopping at a discount store, ICSC reports.
Shoppers were not fretting as much at a Cary music store Tuesday evening. Customers in need of extra cash during these troubled economic times were bringing in their used instruments to sell.
"We are buying left and right, just about every day,” said Kevin White, with Music-Go-Round.
The store is also able to offer big bargains for its paying customers.
"It is $125 brand new, but our used price is actually $69.99,” White said of a set of band cymbals for sale in the store.
To prepare for slower sales, some stores may also keep less merchandise in stock. The danger there could be running out of popular gift items.