NRF predicts holiday shopping growth

FRESNO, California

Like they do every year, retailers are offering up big discounts in hopes of getting people through the door. But this year those efforts may be paying off in a big way.

Shoppers like Matt Stevens will be increasing the amount and size of the gifts given to his family this year.

"It's defiantly been a better year than it was last. As far as work, and everything so tend to spend a little bit more." Said Stevens.

The country's largest retail group -- The National Retail Federation raised its holiday forecast from a 2.3% sales increase to 3.3%. The total holiday take is expected to be more than $450 billion dollars.

Local economic and marketing strategist Dr. Bill Rice of Fresno State says the numbers show that the country is starting to go back to its pre-recession days. But he's quick to point out the valley is still lagging in the recovery process.

"The housing issue which is was a major crush here has not revitalized. The unemployment is still around 20% which is one out of every five people. And so with that additional statistics I believe it's going to be very difficult for us to a 3.3 or above." said rice.

Other shoppers like Edith Gustafson agree. That's why she's being picky about what gifts she'll be giving this year.

"I think I'm just being really careful about what I buy. Shopping around making sure that I'm getting good value for me money." said Gustafson.

Doctor Rice says the next ten days will be crucial for retailers.

The National Retail Federation saw a 34% spike in spending last year in the ten days leading up to Christmas. They expect that number to be matched if not surpassed this year.

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