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Holiday Shoppers Buying Local

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-998290.mp3

Poughkeepsie, NY – The 2011 Holiday Shopping Season is coming to a close: Cost-conscious shoppers haven't just been looking for bargains this season. They've also been shopping locally, as we hear in this report from Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Dave Lucas.

Consumers told consulting firm Deloitte in September that they planned to spend about 5 percent less on holiday shopping this year. But as the economy began to stabilize and gasoline prices fell, shoppers apparently changed their minds: as a result of an uptick in October, The National Retail Federation raised its holiday sales expectations, anticipating a 3-point-8 percent rise this year.

While it won't be known just how much money changed hands til the 2011 Holiday shopping season ends on Saturday, it's already clear that more and more people are shopping local, supporting small businesses.

A steady stream of bargain hunters made their way to places like the Poughkeepsie Galleria in Dutchess County and Crossgates Mall in the Albany area both before and after Christmas to see what deals retailers had to offer.

Retailers say shoppers have been more careful about budgeting their money and time - the weather cooperated, and corporate sales campaigns helped spark sales - Susan Taylor is a bookseller at the Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany and Market Block Books in Troy. She says there was another factor - a "wild card" that affected holiday sales - the "Occupy" movement.

It appears to have made a difference for Sears Holdings Corporation, which has announced plans to close between 100 and 120 Sears and Kmart stores after poor sales during the holidays. A company spokesman says Sears has yet to determine which stores will be closed.

According to America's Research Group, Shoppers nationwide were expected to spend $469.1 billion during the holiday shopping season that runs from November through December.