High Hopes for Holiday Retail

Retailers Association of Massachusetts predicts a 6.5% spending jump, but shoppers’ expectations are mixed

With less than 100 hours to go before Christmas morning, shoppers were flocking to the Burlington Mall on Route 128 in Massachusetts and making it a far busier Monday afternoon than a typical Monday afternoon.

The Retailers Association of Massachusetts is predicting shoppers will spend 6.5 percent more this November and December than they did in the same two months a year ago –- a remarkably bullish projection given that the National Retail Federation forecasts only a 3.7 percent jump.

Tammie Fava of Danvers, out shopping with her husband, Tony, and daughters, Kaliana and Angelina, was confident when asked about the 6.5 percent overall prediction that her family would record “definitely at least that much” more spending for Christmas. “I started early, so you spend more, I think,’’ Tammie Fava said.

Jake Flaherty of Andover, back from college in Maine, said he had completed his Christmas shopping for his parents and sister, “The earliest I’ve ever been done.’’ And he thought he was “definitely spending more. A year older – I had more money to spend.’’

However, a Reuters Ipsos poll found 45 percent of Americans deliberately won’t finish their Christmas shopping early, because they expect to see –- and are holding out for -- deep last-minute discounts later this week. And more than a few shoppers we talked to just don't actually expect to spend more this year than last.

David Chapnik of Acton, who celebrates Hanukkah and buys gifts for friends and family for both Hanukkah and Christmas, said, “I couldn't really say’’ how much more he’s spending this year. “I think it’s about the same.’’

Mary Schussler, a former Arlington and Lexington resident now living in Wilmington, N.C., who has grandchildren in the area, said she and her husband were spending “probably about the same. What we do is, we give a couple of gifts and a check’’ to each of their six grandchildren. “They’re teenagers,” she added with a laugh, “and you never know what they want.”

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