Retailers turning holiday shopping season into entertaining experience

Cue the music, string up the lights. For retailers, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. 

There are 37 shopping days until Christmas. As more Americans shop online, traditional stores have been forced to get creative if they want to stay in business.

"I am so ready to spend money. I want to break the bank account and I want to go home with no regrets," said shopper Lynn Schmeisser. 

It's a matter of survival for some retailers in a year when dozens of major chains closed more than 5,000 stores.

Fearful of being the next to go under, a growing number of stores are turning the ho-hum of shopping into an engaging experience by combining retail with entertainment. They call it "retailment." 

1117-en-schlesinger-retailpush.jpg
CBS News

"People want to be entertained. They want to have a social experience, they want to be able to talk to a real person and get that advice," said Lisa Haddock, who teaches marketing at San Diego State University. "And also, remember online, you can't use your five senses as you can on ground." 

Customers at some Eddie Bauer in Easton, Ohio, can test the toastiness of a new coat when they step into "the ice box" — a giant freezer set to a bone-chilling 16 degrees. 

Macy's is using virtual reality to pump up enthusiasm for electronics, as customers feel the thrill of a rollercoaster in the store. 

Toys 'R' Us is staying open later. Moms and dads get to sip hot chocolate and play -- without the little ones tugging on their coats.

"I love that stores are open at this time of night because the kids are asleep and, then me and my wife can come and pick up some toys for the kids," one father said. 

  • Jill Schlesinger On Twitter»

    View all articles by Jill Schlesinger on CBS MoneyWatch »
    Jill Schlesinger, CFP®, is the Emmy-nominated, Business Analyst for CBS News. She covers the economy, markets, investing and anything else with a dollar sign on TV, radio (including her nationally syndicated radio show), the web and her blog, "Jill on Money." Prior to her second career at CBS, Jill spent 14 years as the co-owner and Chief Investment Officer for an independent investment advisory firm. She began her career as a self-employed options trader on the Commodities Exchange of New York, following her graduation from Brown University.