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‘Tis Still the Season for Shopping


The American holiday shopping season is not over yet. Shoppers are again flocking to the malls after Christmas as retailers try to lure them with deep discounts.

Shoppers flooded an Apple store the day after Christmas to return, exchange or find great deals. Retailers are offering plenty of discounts in hopes of boosting a solid, but not stunning, holiday season. It's a move that makes the shopping mall a very busy place to be this week.

“It's crowded, but everybody's in a good mood,” says one shopper. “Nobody's fussing. Everybody's happy.”

The official Christmas shopping season, roughly one month, which starts the day after the Thanksgiving holiday and ends on Christmas Eve, saw an 8.7 percent increase from the same period last year. But it has competition for the busiest shopping season. The post-Christmas shopping season accounted for 10 percent of all holiday sales in 2004. This year, analysts project an increase of up to 14 percent.

The increase is due to several factors, including the start of Hanukkah, huge discounts and people spending money they received as gifts.

"Just holiday shopping, getting rid of extra cash we got," explained shoppers Christina Cox and Kotrina Aldag.

And that extra cash may be in the form of a gift card, one of the most popular gift items this year. The National Retail Federation estimates consumers will spend about 18 and a half billion dollars on gift cards this season, boosting sales by 6.6 percent.

Retail analyst Diane Swonk says, "These gift cards not only allow consumers to go out there and get the best deals possible, if they want to shop now, or if they wait a few weeks. Many retailers know that people spend more and are actually bringing in spring merchandise in January so you can get that early selection with your gift cards now."

Gift card sales are only counted once they are redeemed. Official December sales figures won't be available for several weeks.

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