Local holiday shopping sales look promising

Merchants report positive holiday shopping outlook

Xmas Sales

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Last year, people spent a total of $563 billion during the holiday shopping season. 

Despite it being a tough economy, the National Retail Federation predicts sales will increase more than 4-percent, this year.

But despite cash registers ringing and people swiping their credit cards, some say it just doesn't seem like the hustle and bustle is as frantic as usual.

Shopper, Jean Ostermeier of La Quinta says, "They're saying this will be a good holiday season for the shoppers and the stores. Hopefully they're right. Just in general, when I'm out and about it doesn't seem to be as crowded as it usually is."

But local business owners we talked to say their numbers are just what they'd expect for the holiday season.  Jan Boydstun, owner of Kitchen Kitchen in Palm Desert says, "Black Friday was good, but the Saturday after was even better and the small business day...I love that American Express pays attention to us little guys."

Chuck Weisbart CEO of It's in the Bag in Palm Desert says, "Business is good. Our customers are in an incredibly good mood. They're value shopping and not wasting money."

And when they are spending, store owners notice shoppers are choosing wisely. Weisbart says, "I think people are looking for function. They want to buy something that's not going to be put on a shelf or re-gifted. They want something where people will say oh, wow that's cool and people will use it."

According to a recent survey by Biginsight for shop.org, 129-million people planned to turn to the internet to find such gifts on Cyber Monday. All the online business may do just the opposite of what you'd think, when it comes to foot traffic, in stores.

Weisbart says, "Online has changed our business. People see things online, they come in and buy them. They want to touch and feel them and deal with someone who knows something about them, so actually online has enhanced the brick-and-mortar."

The National Retail Federation says stores are pushing promotions more than ever, since slower post-thanksgiving traffic has them worried that concerns over the economy and the fiscal cliff will hurt Christmas sales.

Franchesca Forrer, Marketing Director at Westfield Palm Desert says, "On Black Friday we saw some stores double from last year. Since then, we do feel like shoppers out there are being mindful, but with retailers being inventive and offering deals you normally don't see until after Christmas, thankfully shoppers are responding."

Even if you're feeling the pressure to find the best deal on the perfect gift, remember it doesn't pay to be a Scrooge. Boydstun says, "Don't worry about it. I'm a last minute shopper. I love to shop Christmas Eve because of the adrenaline rush."

Weisbart says, "When you're in a good mood, shopping's not a job. When you're stressed, it's a full-time job."

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