Eastern Iowa shoppers help post-holiday shopping rush - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowa shoppers help post-holiday shopping rush

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Shopping malls nationwide were saturated Wednesday with people looking to use gift cards and return presents that weren't quite right.

Wednesday's post-Christmas shopping rush comes as, according to some analysts, this holiday shopping season wasn't as robust as experts had anticipated.

At the Kennedy Mall in Dubuque Wednesday afternoon, the parking lot was full. Shoppers - and retailers - were busy there.

Lynn Ertl brought her daughter Emily and her daughter's friend Abrianna Moore, both girls 11 and in sixth grade, to the Kennedy Mall from their home in Guttenberg. They were on a mission to spend.

"We had some returns and we had some extra cash from Christmas, and we just wanted a day out of the house," Ertl said.

Analysts from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse say holiday-related sales rose less than one percent in the two months before Christmas Day, compared to that time period last year. That's less than experts' initial prediction of a three-to-four percent increase in sales compared to that time last year.

Analysts say contributing factors range from Superstorm Sandy to the looming Fiscal Cliff. Also, they say, an extended holiday season this year means a lot of people got their shopping done early, so the high volume of sales did not continue consistently throughout the entire season.

"With Thanksgiving being theoretically a week earlier this year because there were five Thursdays, this was such a great year for me to go shopping because I was a week ahead of schedule," Ertl said. "I used to have to run out on Christmas Eve day and continue to buy, but we sat around for a couple of days doing nothing because it was all done."

Resting in the mall Wednesday afternoon, waiting for her family to finish their shopping, Hilda Zenner said the mall was definitely busy.

"There's a lot of people out here, you know, and some got a lot of packages," she said.

Not all analysts agree on the sluggishness of this shopping season. One retail group is sticking to its 3 percent increase prediction and another to its 4.1 percent growth prediction.

Until final numbers are in, it's up in the air.

Some retailers annually expect to make as much as half of their profits -- and 30 percent of their sales -- during the two month period leading up to Christmas.

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