Entries in Holiday Spending (37)


Sales at Shopping Centers Boomed in December

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Depending on which figures you go by, the recently-completed holiday shopping season was either pretty good or pretty bad.

Right after Christmas Day, MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse unit reported holiday sales rose a mere 0.7 percent compared to the same period in 2011, representing the slowest growth in spending since 2008, when the U.S. was in the full throes of what has been since termed the “Great Recession.”

Worries about the fiscal cliff and the effects of Hurricane Sandy were blamed for the sluggish sales.

But on Thursday, the International Council of Shopping Centers said that sales at the stores in its group were up an average of 4.5 percent from December 2011.

Two of the ICSC's best performers were high-end retailer Nordstrom and wholesaler Costco.

So factoring in these figures, along with better than expected car sales last month, holiday shoppers might have been a bit more jolly than first believed.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


No Happy Spending for Retailers This Season

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Retailers didn’t have the holiday shopping season they had expected in 2012, according to MasterCard Inc.’s SpendingPulse unit, mostly due to fears of the fiscal cliff and devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy.

From Oct. 28, when Sandy was bearing down on the Northeast, to Christmas Eve, SpendingPulse reports holiday sales rose a mere 0.7 percent compared to the same period in 2011.

This represents the slowest growth in spending since 2008, when the U.S. was in the full throes of what has been since termed the “Great Recession.”

Customer Growth Partners, a retail consulting firm, confirms this assessment based on its own data from the government, retailers and other researchers.

Retailers depend on this time of year for a quarter of their annual revenues.  The news of slow spending belied an earlier optimism brought on by rising consumer sentiment directly ahead of the holidays.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Holiday Sales Expectations Lowered

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Unless everyone and their uncle suddenly rush out and spend on Monday like there's no tomorrow, holiday sales will be off considerably from what was predicted earlier in the season.

Chicago-based retail technology company ShopperTrak has said as much by lowering their forecast for holiday sales from a 3.3 percent increase compared to the same period in November and December of 2011, to 2.5 percent.

Much of the lowered prediction has to do with the effects Hurricane Sandy had in the Northeast as well as retailers deeply discounting items early on to generate as much interest in the holiday season as possible.

The particularly lengthy shopping season of 32 days between Black Friday and Christmas also seemed to compel shoppers to hold out longer for possible last-minute bargains.

One encouraging sign this season, according to ShopperTrak, is that retail foot traffic is up 2.8 percent this year compared to 2011 -- the first such increase since 2008, when the Great Recession lowered the boom on shoppers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Last-Minute Christmas Shopping Tips: What’s Open, What’s Available

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you’ve waited until Monday -- Christmas Eve -- to do your Christmas shopping, all is not lost.  There are some stores that will be open well into the evening, and even others that will be open on Christmas Day.

It's important to note, however, that local ordinances may prevent some stores from being open according to the corporate-posted hours, so call before you head out the door to confirm a store is open.

Here are some big retailers that are open Christmas Eve:

  • Target until 9 p.m.
  • Kmart until 10 p.m.
  • Toys ‘R’ Us until 10 p.m.
  • Macy’s until 6 p.m.
  • Walmart until 6 or 8 p.m. (varies by store)

And while malls may not extend hours later on Christmas Eve, many are opening early on Monday to accommodate people who want to shop before work.

If you plan to shop tomorrow -- on Christmas Day -- it’ll be tougher, but it can be done if you’re creative.  Here are some places to try:

Airport Gift Shop

If you’re flying to your Christmas get-together, try the airport gift shop.  They often have lots of gifts, including books and fragrances.  Also, many airports now have electronics vending machines from the likes of Best Buy and other vendors.  You put in your credit card and you can buy anything from headphones to an iPod to a handheld gaming device.

Convenience Store

Many 7-11 and Cumberland Farms convenience stores will be open along with individual independents or smaller chains (this will vary depending on your location and the franchisee -- but many will be open).  They may not be your first choice for gifts, but they offer more than you might expect.


If your loved one loves coffee, you’re in luck.  Many Starbucks will be open on Christmas.  Buy a gift card, mugs, some coffee beans and a CD, and you’ve got a great package.

Trip to the Movies

Movie theaters are open on Christmas Day; in fact many say it’s one of their busiest days of the year.  So swing by to purchase a gift card for the movies and make a fun gift box with some Twizzlers and some popcorn.  It’s a gift a movie buff will truly appreciate.


Many CVS and Walgreens pharmacies will be open.  A Walgreens spokesperson told ABC News: “On Christmas Day, non-24 hour stores will be open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Pharmacies open in 24-hour stores and select locations; 24-hour stores always open.”

While many CVS stores will be open, you definitely need to call to check.  Their spokesperson told ABC News: “Many stores across the country will be offering extended store hours for the holidays, or are open 24 hours.  To locate a nearby CVS/pharmacy or for specific questions about store hours near you, visit the Store Locator ( for the phone number of your local store.”

These pharmacies are great for last-minute gifts.  From toys to home and beauty products, books, Crock Pots and As Seen on TV items, they offer a broad selection of gifts.  Also many have photo centers where you can print photos directly from your phone or Facebook page.  Buy a frame in-store and some wrapping paper and you look like you’ve been planning a thoughtful gift all year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Retail Foot Traffic Rose 8.2% over Thanksgiving Weekend

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It will almost certainly take several weeks for the retail industry to know if they can celebrate a rise in holiday sales.  But ShopperTrak, a firm that analyzes customer traffic, is out with its estimates.

The Chicago-based company says stores had a strong 8.2 percent rise in foot traffic over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend compared to last year.

Total sales, meanwhile, increased only 2.7 percent from 2011, with shoppers spending about $22 million between Thursday and Sunday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cyber Monday: Five Tips for Safe Online Holiday Shopping

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- While you won't get toppled by someone racing you to get that doorbuster deal, Cyber Monday comes with its own host of dangers.

Online Black Friday shopping was already up 26 percent from last year, according to comScore, and if you review some of the major online security threats from the past year, you'll realize that this is the year to start being incredibly vigilant about how and where you are typing in your personal data online.

So before you fork over your credit card number and other information, make sure you're following these five safety tips:

1. Make sure you are buying from a secure site.

"The first thing you want to do is look at the URL and make sure it says HTTPS," says Natalie Severino, a security expert at Trend Micro.  Along with the HTTPS in the web address you want to make sure you see the small padlock icon in the address bar when you get to the payment steps.  Both of those will indicate that you are shopping on a secure site, which has a trusted and safe backend system.

2. Make sure your security software is up to date.

It seems like the obvious and boring tip, but it really is important.  Every security expert ABC News spoke with stressed that keeping the anti-virus software up to date and running should stop you from going to an unsafe shopping site.

3. Don't trust all those emails.

Your inbox may be flooded with "great Cyber Monday deal" messages, but not all of those emails are safe.  "Some of the emails and the deals seem too good to be true.  And they are," says Claudia Lombana, PayPal's Shopping Specialist.  "The best thing to do is not to click the link, and go to a new webpage and try and go to it that way.  It is only clicking links from those direct e-mail sources that can get you in trouble."

4. Use a different password at every site.

If you can learn anything from this year's online security disasters it is to never use the same password across your accounts or sites.  If you are prompted to sign up for a new account to make a purchase, make sure to create a new password.  Both Lombana and Severino suggested a password with a combination of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.

5. Be even more mindful when shopping on your phone or tablet.

According to PayPal, there was a 193 percent increase in mobile shopping this Black Friday over last year.  And that's just the start -- the number of people shopping on their phone or tablet this holiday season is only going to go up.  The experts say, however, that those mobile shoppers need to be even more vigilant about security.  "The number one thing when shopping on a mobile device is to password-protect the phone or tablet," Lombana said.  Also, make sure to keep in mind all the other tips and always make purchases over a secure and password-protected WiFi network.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Retailers Enjoy Strong Start to Holiday Shopping Season

Sean Gallup/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Holiday sales got off to a strong start for retailers over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend, with an estimated $59.1 billion in sales -- up almost $7 billion from last year -- according to a survey by the National Retail Federation.

The retail trade association reports a record 247 million shoppers visited stores and websites over the holiday weekend, up from 226 million in 2011.  The average holiday shopper spent $423 this past weekend, up from $398 last year.

Turkeys were the obvious losers on Thanksgiving Day, but retailers were the winners.  The trade report says more than 35 million Americans visited retailers’ stores and websites on Thursday, up from 29 million last year.

And surprising news for those who thought that with more retailers open on Thanksgiving Day and more bargains online, Black Friday might diminish in importance.  The survey found that some 89 million shoppers hit the malls and the Internet on Black Friday, up from 86 million in 2011.  According to the survey, 28 percent of shoppers were at stores by midnight on Black Friday, compared to 24.4 percent last year.

More than one quarter of shoppers said they shopped online on Thanksgiving Day, and nearly half did so on Black Friday.  According to the survey, the average person spent $172.42 online over the holiday weekend.

The National Retail Federation says shoppers are more conscious of how they’re spending their money, with two out of three people opting to use cash or debit instead of credit cards.

Fifty-eight percent purchased clothing and clothing accessories over the weekend, up from 51.4 percent last year.  Almost 33 percent of shoppers bought gift cards over the weekend, up nearly 10 percentage points.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


The Top Black Friday and Thanksgiving Deals

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Black Friday deals are available to shoppers even earlier this year, and although there will be a large inventory of discounted merchandise, this week is not the best time of the year for the steepest discounts.

The two times of the year that offer the steepest online discounts are January to February and August to September, when discounts average 46 percent, according to Tamra Feldman, vice president of marketing at personalized shopping deals site Shop It To Me.

On the other hand, the average discount offered during Thanksgiving week is about 40 percent, according to the 150 online retailers in Shop It To Me's database.

However, shoppers have a larger inventory to choose from earlier on, so Feldman said consumers should still purchase items they love this week.  If you are hesitating to make a purchase, Feldman said, "If you're exceeding 40 percent, you can feel confident it's a great deal."

Like in previous years, many stores are offering free online shipping with no minimum purchase total this season.

Below are the best Black Friday deals offering discounts of 40 percent or more in-stores or online.  As always, it is best to check your local listings for store hours and deals:

  • Ann Taylor -- Ann Taylor has already begun offering 40 percent off full-price merchandise online with the code: THANKS.
  • Banana Republic -- Leading up to Black Friday, Banana Republic stores offer 40 percent off select styles.  On Black Friday, customers will get 40 percent off their entire purchase in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Bloomingdale's -- Save up to 50 percent off online and in-store purchases now through Sunday, Nov. 25.  In stores only, get 15.00 bMoney, Bloomingdale's reward points, for almost every $100 you spend.  Free shipping on any online order ends on Dec. 20.  Tuesday and Wednesday are also Bloomingdale's loyalist preview days online only, in which shoppers save more if they buy more.
  • Gap -- Gap's "Bright Friday" event is offering up to 60 percent off select items online through Saturday and in stores through Sunday.  On Friday until noon, men's and women's sweaters are $19, GapBody pajama sets are $19, and kids and baby graphic tees are $5.  On Saturday and Sunday, men's and women's tees are $10, GapBody pajama pants are $15 and kids and baby sweaters will be discounted 60 percent.
  • JCPenney -- JCPenney is offering its "only sale of the year" on Black Friday.  Over 1,100 JCpenney stores will open at 6 a.m. on Black Friday.  Black Friday deals will start on Thanksgiving day online.  Its Cyber Monday sale will start on Sunday with free shipping and deals unique to
  • Kohl's -- Department store Kohl's is offering 500 Early Bird Black Friday specials online from Wednesday to Friday.  Its in-store sales begin midnight on Friday.  All Kohl's shoppers will earn $15 Kohl's Cash for every $50 spent online and in stores, with no maximum.  Kohl's Cyber Monday and Cyber Week deals include 20 percent off and free shipping.
  • Kmart -- Kmart stores open at 6 a.m. on Thanksgiving.  Many stores will open at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.  Triple door buster online sales will begin at 5 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving, and at 4 a.m. on Friday.
  • Macy's -- Macy's is opening its doors at midnight on Thursday, offering deals like 1/2 ct. t.w. diamond studs in 14k White Gold for $199, 40 percent off all regular priced coffee makers, tea kettles and espresso makers, and a free pair of high-definition headphones with any $75 or more men's or women's fragrance purchase.  Customers can also view Black Friday specials on the Macy's mobile app.
  • Neiman Marcus -- Luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is offering free shipping with the code: NMFALL. Shoppers will save up to 40-60 percent off regular prices online and in-stores.
  • Old Navy -- The first customers to make a $40 purchase on Black Friday may get a New Super Mario Bros. U Game ($59.99 retail value) for the new Wii U home console.  From midnight to 4 a.m. on Black Friday, half-zip fleece for the family will sell for $5, Old Navy Famous Jeans for adults will sell for $15, and select styles of Adoraboots for women, girls and toddler girls will sell for $12.  Sherpa hoodies and coats will go on sale for $15 to $19 from 8 a.m. to noon.  On Saturday, graphic tees for the family will sell for $5.
  • Sears -- Sears' website is listing door busters each day of the weekend.  Sears has already hosted Turkey Tuesday, offering 5 to 15 percent off plus free shipping on orders of $49 or more.  Starting Wednesday, the company will have over 1,000 Black Friday door busters.
  • Sports Authority -- Sports Authority will have 100 door busters until 3 p.m. and for the first time, most locations will open at midnight on Black Friday.  The store is offering 50 percent off all balls, Razor E100, E125 or E150 electric scooters for $99 for a savings of $50, and a Chelsea Foosball table for $159.99 for a savings of $240, plus other deals.
  • Target -- Target will open its doors for Black Friday sales on Thursday at 9 p.m.  The company also offers holiday price matching from competitors.
  • Toys "R" Us -- Toys "R" Us will open its doors at 8 p.m. on Thursday, offering door buster deals while supplies last and a free bag of toys, including Lego and Crayola products, for the first 200 families.
  • Walmart -- Walmart's Black Friday two-day sale starts online on Thanksgiving Day and through Black Friday.  The company will open its doors at 8 p.m. at most stores.  Its Cyber Week starts online on Saturday, Nov. 24 through Sunday, Dec. 2, with free shipping on over 100,000 items.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cyber Monday Deals You Can Get Right Now

ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It’s not yet Black Friday but some stores are already offering Cyber Monday deals.

Cyber Monday is typically the first Monday after Thanksgiving, and it’s become well-known for the deep discounts offered to online shoppers that day.

This year, retailers aren’t waiting until Monday.  They’re making deals available right now.

Kohl’s, for example, is offering 500 “Early Bird” online specials.  They call it early Black Friday.

Why are retailers offering Cyber Monday now?  One of the reasons is the prevalence of mobile devices which enable shoppers to shop anywhere, at any time.  It’s estimated that 24 percent of shopping this holiday weekend will be done on mobile devices.

Here are some of the deals you can get right now:

  • Among the many deep discounts Kohl’s is offering starting on Wednesday, shoppers may get a Vivitar 12.1 mega pixel digital camera that’s regularly priced at $149.99 for $59.99.
  • On, sales are already available under a promotion the company’s calls Black Friday Deals Week.  Discounts are offered on electronics, computers and accessories, clothing, jewelry and a variety of other items.
  • NewEgg’s “Pre-Black Friday Frenzy” offers discounts on computer hardware and software, including an ASUS laptop computer for $249.
  • Target is offering a “Beat the Rush” sale.  Shoppers will get 25 percent off toys and 30 percent off kitchen and home items, among the specials offered.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Four Tips to Save Money on Black Friday

GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- With three daughters -- ages 4, 2 and 10 weeks -- Sarah Perillo, a blogger at, and her husband Chris have their hands full and not a lot of time for holiday shopping.

So Joanna Stern, the technology editor at, went to meet the Perillos in Simsbury, Conn., to show them how to outsmart stores and use technology to get great deals.

After Stern shared the following tips with the Perillos, the couple was able to cross a few items off the kids' wish list and put $390 back into their pockets.

1. Arm Yourself With Apps Like Decide

ABC News and the Perillos were surprised to learn that online prices fluctuate hourly.  The price of a Sony camera dropped three times -- almost $50 -- in the course of 12 hours.

At the store, the Perillos saw a digital camera they'd been considering.  Using the Decide app, they scanned the barcode and then searched through thousands of pieces of information to see whether they should buy it now or wait for a lower price.

The app's data told the Perillos not to buy the camera just yet, but it did give them the green light on a Samsung TV on sale for $648.

2. Click to Compare

A Tigger toy -- at the top of the girls' holiday list -- that Sarah Perillo had found at Target for $39.99 was marked down to $28.99.  Using an app called Red Laser, she scanned the bar code and found it for a lower price -- $21.  Because Target matches competitors' online prices this year, Sarah Perillo took it home for $21.

3. Walk Away From Your Cart

"If you put something in your cart and you walk away from it, it's kind of like playing hard to get," Stern said.  "Tell them [stores] you want it and walk away and then it might lower the price.  They'll send you an email saying, 'Actually we noticed you had this in your cart.  Here's a 10 percent discount."

To trick the computer, you may need to put your credit card number in the designated spot but don't go any further with the order.

4. Forgo the Black Friday Lines and Shop Wednesday

Stern said to avoid the Black Friday lines and shop on Wednesday.  This year, many retailers are already offering their Black Friday discounts.  The Samsung TV that the Perillos found on sale for $648 will be the same price Friday.  There were only four left when they looked.

Stern also suggested skipping the Black Friday stampede in the toy aisle on Black Friday and put off buying any toys.  Experts say they've found that toys are at their lowest prices online in the two weeks before Christmas.

According to, the best days to buy products -- based on when consumers are most likely to shop online for categories of products -- are:

  • Sunday: Home appliances
  • Monday: Electronics
  • Tuesday: Travel
  • Wednesday: Jewelry
  • Thursday: Clothing

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio