Late-start shoppers are scrambling

Dec. 22, 2012 at 11:46 AM

NEW YORK, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- U.S. shoppers are not finished with gift buying yet, and retailers said the holiday shopping season still has a chance of doing well after uneven sales so far.

"People are very focused. They have their list and it's bam, bam, bam!" said Kim Freeburn, a district vice president for Macy's stores. "It's an intense customer this weekend."

A recent Consumer Reports survey indicated two-thirds of shoppers said they were not done with holiday gift-buying, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

About 14 percent indicated they had yet to begin, the survey found.

The survey indicated that those who have shopped have spent an average of $340 on gifts -- although shoppers said in a Gallup survey they expected to spend $770 on gifts.

The National Retail Federation predicted a 4.1 percent rise in sales over 2011, with consumers shelling out $586.1 billion by the time the holidays have come and gone.

November and December business can make or break the year for retailers -- with an estimated 40 percent of their business associated with holiday shopping.

So far, a market analyst said the shopping season has been disappointing.

"Holiday sales have been off for weeks. The bad news is this year will be based on price more than merchandise, as consumers have been groomed to wait to be rewarded with better discounts," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD Group.

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