Holiday Shopping Hope: Retail Sales Up

With Christmas just days away, it seems Americans are spending again.

Dec. 21, 2010— -- With Christmas just days away, it seems Americans are opening their wallets and spending again.

The Saturday before Christmas, known as "Super Saturday" was the second-biggest shopping day so far this year, according to new data from Shoppertrak.

Sales for Saturday were up 15 percent from last year and consumers are spending a $1 billion more.

"It's clearly a different move than what we saw last year. There's more energy, it's more exciting, the consumers are certainly more interested in participating in the event," said Bill Martin with Shoppertrak.

The good news for retailers is that they don't have to entice shoppers with extreme discounts as they did in the last two holiday seasons.

"What's happening now is what's left in the store, it's the type of things they want to move. And they believe they can move them with a not as deep a discount as they had last year," said Martin.

Last Minute Shopping

The next four days are crucial as stores try to empty their shelves.

For the hot items this season, people are spending on clothing and jewelry especially luxury jewelry - which is doing slightly better – up 2.8 percent since last year according to SpendingPulse.

Online purchases are up 13.5 percent.

But some customers could be looking at blank shelves sooner than they thought. According to a report by USA Today, some major retailers made conservative spending estimates and have less popular items in stock. Walmart is out of stock online for 76 percent of their products and and Target are each out of over 40 percent of their items, according to a Goldman Sachs study cited in the USA Today report.

Consumers are using their smartphones to help with their shopping trips. According to the National Retail Federation's 2010 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, more than one quarter or 26 percent of shoppers have used their phone to make a purchase. About one third or 32.5 percent used their phones to get text messages containing special offers.

"Just as we saw with the emergence of Internet shopping, mobile shopping too is already starting to catch on in terms of being a generator of sales for retailers," said Phil Rist, executive vice president, Strategic Initiatives, BIGresearch in a news release. "Tracking down mobile coupons and reading customer reviews remain extremely popular options for shoppers as they look for the best price, product and even store location."

However, sales of electronics like flat screen televisions, traditionally a holiday favorite, are down.