Slower sales increase the need for those last-minute shoppers

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The Christmas shopping season is drawing to a close, and area retailers are hoping last-minute shoppers bring them a boost in sales.

The National Retail Federation is predicting holiday retail sales will decline one percent this year to $437.6 billion.

UAB economist, Dr. Bob Robicheax, said many area retailers prepared for the possibility of decreasing sales by stocking less merchandise.  He adds that shoppers are still watching their spending.

"People have really rolled back spending," said Dr. Robicheax, "They are spending more on lower priced items, and the high-priced ticket items are suffering. Consumer confidence is not back."

Crowds have been steady at The Summit throughout the week. Some shoppers said it's a tradition to wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping, while others said they were hoping to get good deals.

"I love to be out around people and all the crowds especially this time of year," said Cheryl Gradune, "I love to wish them a Merry Christmas."

"It is really not as bad as people think," said Natasha Rogers, "The traffic will deter you, but once you get inside the actual stores it isn't that bad."

Area stores are also preparing for after Christmas sales, and many will have extended hours.