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Final Holiday Shopping Weekend Attracts Bargain Hunters, Procrastinators

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- With weather not posing a problem, shoppers flocked to their neighborhood malls and stores on Saturday to finish or, in many cases, begin their holiday shopping.

According to retail analysts, Saturday is expected to be the busiest shopping day in the shortened season. And with just three days remaining until Christmas Day, many are finding deep discounts as retailers try to trim inventories.

And it's not just people getting presents under the tree. Leah Goldade of Lulu and Luigi's Pet Boutique says business is brisk.

"We're selling lots of boots this year just because of the weather, the snow and cold," Goldade said. "Lots of treats and toys this year, stocking stuffers for sure."

For people presents, Minnesota's winter weather is also driving business at Hoigaard's, where outdoor clothing and gear is in high demand.

General Manager Todd Brewer says they are in the "final countdown."

"Snowshoes, cross-country skis, that kind of fun stuff that you really have to have snow in the parks or in the back yard before people get excited about it," Brewer said. "But it's all across the board."

The National Retail Federation expects a 3.9-percent jump in holiday sales nationwide this year.

That's helped largely by an improving economy and rising consumer confidence.

That's obvious in the words of shopper Jan Zweig.

"I feel more confident spending a little more money than last year," Zweig said.

Dave Brennan, a marketing professor at the University of St. Thomas, says Twin Cities' malls and stores can expect to outpace the national average.

"For the whole metropolitan area we're talking about [an increase of] 9.2 percent, but we're very robust in terms of our economy compared to the nation as a whole," Brennan said.

As for the hot-ticket items this holiday season, Brennan says electronics are doing much better than in previous years, while apparel items appear to be more sluggish.

But as retailers move to clear their clothing inventories, that will play right into the pocketbooks of holiday bargain hunters, who are finding deep discounts.

"We're gonna see a lot more sales, not only this weekend, but in the early part of next week," Brennan said.

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