Bargains await Christmas shopping procrastinators

Published: .
Updated: .

The holiday season is taking hold for retailers as sales are up across the board. Across the country, retails sales were up in November as the economy shook off the disruptions caused by Hurricane Sandy. Online sales were up sharply.

Retail sales in November, the first couple of weeks of the holiday season, bumped up eight-tenths of one percent. Stores want consumers spending a lot more this month. In the next week and a half, shoppers should expect healthy inventories, hefty discounts, and long hours.

Lisa Wise was hitting the stores Thursday. "Today is the first day I've gotten really good and started," she said.

"I have probably a couple more trips left to the mall left," said shopper Shelly Bradley.

Retail experts estimate about half of all Christmas shoppers do most of their buying during the last week before Christmas. This year, procrastinating may pay off.

"We are going to see Black Friday sales to the end of the holiday season," said Richard Feinberg, Purdue University professor of consumer sciences and the retail industry. "If consumers have money and want to spend it, they are going to find inventory and they are going to find tremendous bargains."

Eleven days before Christmas, shoppers are finding shelves and aisles well stocked and more merchandise arriving.

"This particular year I am finding all the things I want, that I thought might be gone," said Marilyn Satushor.

Holiday shoppers are expected to spend only about four percent more than last year. Stores are aggressively going after them and their money.

At Meijer, brand-name hoodies are going for $60 today. Friday's flyer lists the price at $19 - three for the price of one, if you wait a day.

Angel Davis needs presents for three teenage daughters, a husband and extended family

"The sales are actually sales this year. I pick it up, I like it and go to the register and I find I'm paying less that I thought I would. I'm excited by that," said Davis.

Stores want shoppers spending and shopping around the clock. Macy's and Toys R Us, in the final days before Christmas, will be open 24 hours a day.

Retailers expect the last two weekends before Christmas will be big ones. That's important, because stores make as much as 40 percent of their profits during the holiday season.

Consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the nation's economy. Industries and employers are hoping to finish the year strong and begin 2013 with the economy heading upward.