With Thanksgiving just weeks away, stores are already gearing up for the holiday shopping season. 

Weijia Jiang reports retailers are optimistic about sales, despite a rough economic climate.

If the holiday season is the time to be jolly and being jolly includes buying gifts, the season is here earlier than usual.

“I couldn’t believe how crowded it was.  It was very busy.  Christmas started after Halloween this year, instead of after Thanksgiving,” said a Towson shopper.

The Maryland Retail Association, or MRA, agrees, noting a fresh mindset among shoppers.

“They’re not as anxious as they were two years ago, for example, when the bottom was falling out,” said an MRA official.

The MRA says retailers statewide expect to see a one to two percent increase in sale this year, in part because of huge deals.  Stores are offering them already, not waiting for Black Friday.

“We looked at all different price points, at what customers would be looking for this time of year,” said Crate and Barrel Manager Rachael Eagan.

That helps shoppers like Lamont Stewart.

“I can budget my money better.  I know what money I have to work with up until the date, up until Christmas,” Stewart said.

Businesses are not just using storefronts to promote their sales this year.  It’s all about social networking.

“Follow us, like us and we’ll let you know what’s going on that day, the insider tip,” said Towson Town Center Senior Marketing Manager Jessica Bloom.

Whether it’s a Facebook message or a new Tweet, coupons are all over the net. 

Though shoppers are taking advantage, many are still not ready to splurge.

“I’m gonna be conservative, absolutely.  It’s just too much right now.  The circumstances, the economy, it’s still too shaky,” said shopper Deborah Rosenberg.

Shaky is better than abysmal and retailers are just glad the sales numbers aren’t going down.

Economists also point to a rebound in the stock market and a spike in holiday hiring as signs of a good shopping season to come.

The Maryland Retail Association looks at a survey of state businesses and industry data to predict sales.


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