BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Bad news for retailers could mean good news for holiday shoppers. A slower than expected holiday shopping weekend might lead to bigger bargains right up through Christmas.

Derek Valcourt explains retailers are looking for ways to make up for what they didn’t get this weekend.

There were big crowds this weekend, but they just weren’t spending as much money.

Bargain hunters were lining up right from the start. And this year, that start came earlier than ever with more stores choosing to open up on Thanksgiving night. In all, some 141 million people hit the stores this long holiday weekend–two million more than last year. But for the first time in years, spending was down. Shoppers spent on average $407, compared to $423 last year.

“Well, from a retailer’s perspective, it didn’t meet expectations,” said Pat Donoho, Maryland Retailers Association. “I guess it’s the best way to put it.”

Donoho believes the lackluster sales may be in part because many people started their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. Many locally-owned stores say they don’t rely on Black Friday as much as the big box stores.

“So for us, we tend to ramp up the closer we get to the holiday, so I’m expecting some real good things for us,” said Steve Samaras, Zachary’s Jewelers.

While sales were a mixed bag on Main Street, online retailers fared much better. In fact, this Cyber Monday set records for the busiest online shopping day in history. Early numbers indicate online shopping is up more than 17 percent over last year.

“The last five years, online shopping has increased in double digits every year, whereas brick and mortar stores have gone up two, three or four percent a year,” Donoho said.

Many retailers are finding hope in a new Rasmussen poll that finds 49 percent of Americans haven’t even started their holiday shopping yet.

And if you’re among those who haven’t even started, keep in mind you’ve got exactly three weeks left.

Many analysts expect starting around Dec. 15, many stores will begin offering even steeper discounts as they try to clear inventory and compete for those last-minute shoppers.

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