Retailers and consumers preparing for holiday shopping season

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) – The numbers show consumers facing high unemployment remain reluctant to spend. With holiday shopping already starting for some, retailers are using new techniques to draw in the crowd.

Hickory Farms is set up 25 days before Black Friday this year. It's one of several businesses that are doing things differently in an effort to entice more holiday shoppers.

On the first day of November it's hard for Jay Rogers to think holiday shopping.

(Do you think you're going to be spending less this year?) "Every year I say I'm going to spend less," said Jay Rogers. But every year the 33-year-old spends more than he planned.

Stores want more people like Jay who spend, spend, spend.

VCU professor David Urban hates to be the grinch. "I'm not expecting a windfall of retail sales at Christmas," explained Urban. "There was a Gallup Poll that just came out a few days ago saying that consumers are actually expected to spend a little bit less than last year."

The holiday season is a make it or break it time for most stores.

"The good news for retailers is that because of the recession they have economized a lot," said Urban. "They've cut way back on personnel. Their inventory management has gotten a lot tighter."

Chris Matheny wants you to shop Chesterfield first.

"You will see there's numerous coupons for many different businesses in Chesterfield County," said Matheny.

He just launched the website designed to give local businesses and the county's tax revenue a leg up.

"If you live in Chesterfield County, spend your dollars in Chesterfield County. It's important."

Diane Barnard can credit many a gift to county stores. "I have a big, huge family," said Barnard. "So I'm starting early."

The National Retail Federation expects shoppers like Diane to turn it's holiday forecast into a reality. It predicts spending to be up about $8 a person. With stores starting early, sales lasting longer and some businesses open thanksgiving day, it could happen.

"If that's what it takes to get people in the door, they're willing to do it," said Urban.

Remember to do your research on any potential gift and don't be afraid to ask for an extra discount.

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