By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – Counting today, there are four days left before Christmas, and shoppers are expected to hit stores early and often between now and then.
“I’m only just now getting started, which probably isn’t a good thing,” said Lana James, who said she was getting gifts for her husband, parents and three grandchildren.
With Black Friday long gone, shoppers like James are hitting stores for Super Saturday, the second-biggest shopping day of the year behind the day after Thanksgiving.
And retailers are hoping today lives up to its name.
By some measures, the holiday shopping season has been a disappointment, despite sales up 2 percent to $176.7 billion from Nov. 1 through Sunday.
ShopperTrak predicted holiday sales during the last two months of the year to rise 2.4 percent.
But at The Mall at Barnes Crossing, customer traffic hasn’t been a problem, said General Manager Jeff Snyder.
“Usually, when you hear that the numbers are down, we’re still doing well in Northeast Mississippi,” he said. “So with an increase, even though it’s considered small, that means we’re really doing well here.”
Snyder said traffic and sales at the mall’s nearly 100 tenants have been steady throughout the season.
And other shop owners, like Amy McClellan of Joyful Creations on McCullough Boulevard said business has been good throughout the season.
“It’s been busy since the middle of November and hasn’t let up,” she said. “I think some people realize we’re only just a few days away from Christmas and start to panic.”
James said she wasn’t in a panic, but admitted Christmas sneaked up on her.
“It was Thanksgiving one day, and now here it is, Christmas,” she said.
She’s not alone in feeling pressed for time. Because of this year’s late Thanksgiving, there’s one less week to shop between the holidays then last year.
Retailers also started their discounting earlier in the season to drive traffic. That’s better for consumers, but it impacts stores’ profits.
Snyder said the sales will continue after Christmas, and retailers will continue to be busy.
“It’s not going to be as busy as the week leading up to it, but it will be steady,” he said.