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Holiday shoppers still have a lot more shopping and spending to do with just 14 days left until Christmas, according to the latest consumer survey by the International Mass Retail Association (IMRA). By early December, 28 percent had not yet started shopping, compared with 25 percent in the same time period last year, and fewer had finished - 14 percent, down from 16 percent in 2001.

Those who have started appear to be spending at pace similar to last year. When asked how much of their anticipated spending they had already spent, 15 percent said less than a quarter; 16 percent said a quarter to less than half; 26 percent, half to less than three-quarters; 25 percent, three-quarters to all of their anticipated spending; and 15 percent said they had spent more than anticipated.

Holiday shoppers strongly favor discount department stores over other types of retailers. More than four in 10 (42 percent) are doing the majority of their shopping at these stores, about the same portion as last year. Conventional department stores are a distant second at 18 percent. Two types of retailers became slightly more popular this year, according to the IMRA survey - specialty stores, and outlet centers.
KC's View:
We have to think that a lot of the reticence on the part of many shoppers can be attributed to that rare American combination of pragmatism and optimism.

Pragmatism because consumers want to wait and see what the next couple of weeks will bring before they made their decisions about how much to spend this holiday season and on what.

Optimism because they’re convinced, deep down, that in a week or two everything will go back to being okay.

Of course, not everybody shares this unique combination. We, for example, are almost done with our Christmas shopping…probably because we’re cynical/skeptical and are convinced that nothing’s going to get better, so we might as well get things taken care of.