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Last minute shoppers

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Last minute shoppers

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It’s that time for holiday cheer — and for some, a frantic dash to the stores.
Last-minute shoppers hit stores on Christmas  Eve in a surge that is expected to top off an unexpectedly strong holiday shopping season.
Stores are expected to ring up $469.1 billion during the holiday season, and the final week before the special day can account for up to 20 per cent of those sales. Retailers tempered their expectations heading into the season because they worried that Americans weren’t ready to spend in the weak economy. But sales have been so brisk during the two-month period that the National Retail Federation, the industry’s big trade group, upgraded its sales forecast a full percentage point to 3.8 percent.
Sales from the start of the season in November through last Saturday rose 2.5 per cent, according to research firm ShopperTrak. Online, shoppers had spent almost $32 billion online for the holiday season, a 15 percent increase from a year ago, according to the comScore, which tracks Web use.
But at a time when Americans are still concerned about high unemployment, lower wages and market uncertainty, retailers aren’t willing to leave anything to chance on the final shopping days before Christmas.
Macy’s and Toys R Us have been open for 24 hours in the days leading up to Christmas. (AP)