Retailers switch from Halloween to Holiday Shopping - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Retailers switch from Halloween to Holiday Shopping

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Almost overnight, retailers shifted from one holiday to another. The Christmas season is "unofficially" underway in many local malls and stores.

Sharon Mattson is the owner of a local craft business. She can't wait to open her annual Christmas kiosk at Waterloo's Crossroads Center.

"Started very early. Loading the car in the dark and getting out here in the dark and getting ready for customers this afternoon," said Mattson.

Sure, most of us are still in Halloween mode. But in Mattson's view, the holiday season starts now.

"I come out here November 1st every year. So it seems to get here quicker every year -- but I don't start any earlier," said Mattson.

As a crew installs the massive tree and trimmings, Crossroads Center General Manager Gary Ogzewalla reflects on a time when Christmas shopping began on Black Friday.

"It keeps creeping up on us earlier and earlier. And we have to be prepared for it," said Ogzewalla.

According to the National Retail Federation, 40 percent of Americans have already begun buying. In fact, Ogzewalla said retailers count on this time of year for a bulk of their annual sales.

"[Retailers do] twenty to twenty-five percent of their business during the holiday season. So if the holiday season isn't strong, then it hurts," said Ogzewalla.

The good news -- shoppers are expected to spend more this year. NRF reports Americans will spend $586 billion dollars on gifts, decorations, and cards in 2012.

According to EMarketer, online spending will account for about 24% of holiday shopping. Meaning the majority of people will do their gift buying at stores.

"A lot of people are very tactile. They like to feel, they like to try on. They like to have that experience," said Ogzewalla.

Increasingly, they also like to shop local.

"The community is encouraging people to shop at home and support local merchants," said Ogzewalla.

Mattson hopes that holds true. She knows it will be a busy two months -- but, with any luck, the early days should pay off come December 26th.

If you are planning to do some holiday shopping this weekend -- you might want to keep this in mind. The NRF reports six in ten Americans prefer to receive gift cards this year. That's the highest percentage in the survey's history.

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