December 27, 2010
Forget the returns line. Americans hit the stores after Christmas to buy stuff, indulging the rediscovered retail appetite that may have made 2010's holiday shopping season the biggest ever.
Revenue for the holiday season is on track to grow at its strongest rate since 2006. Total spending for November and December could exceed 2007 sales, the best season on record. This despite an uncertain economy and a rise in thrifty habits.
Shoppers spent more on their family and friends and for the first time since before the Great Recession, treated themselves and even their pets. And after Christmas, even an East Coast blizzard didn't kill the mood as they headed to stores armed with gift cards and eyeing a new crop of discounts.
Mall of America's spokesman Dan Jasper reported Monday that shoppers are doing more buying and less returning this week than a year ago.
"People are definitely treating themselves,'' particularly to jeans and accessories, he said.
Spending was strong since the start of the holiday shopping season in November and the momentum continued through Christmas Eve, a surprising sign of strength for the economy. Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of U.S. economic activity.
People spent more even as they held on to frugal habits learned during the Great Recession, from focusing on big bargains to paying with cash. That conservative shopping mentality was clear as shoppers rummaged through clearance bins at stores and malls this week.
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