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Christmas Shoppers Off and Running

Economic analysts say so far, more shoppers are hitting the stores this holiday season than last year, and that includes Houston. But the news isn’t all rosy. Bill Stamps explains why.



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The first official Christmas shopping weekend is in the books and it appears more people are out buying than this time last year. But if you think retail stores are celebrating, UH business professor Betsy Gelb says there’s more to the story. She says there may be more shoppers, but those shoppers are actually spending less. She believes a surge in online shopping will boost those sales.

“The expectation is there will be a big boost in online buying compared to last year. And so that will make the long weekend if you will, a greater success than its counterpart last year.”

Professor Gelb says Houston business should fare just fine. Considering we haven’t been hit as hard as other cities across the country.

“It’s a combination of what do you really have to spend and what we call consumer confidence. How worried are you about losing your job, someone else in your family losing their job? And here you are less likely to be worried, not certainly that no one is worried, but less likely than for the country as a whole.”

Gelb says not only are more people buying items off the internet. They’re also buying more gift cards.

“More cards, interestingly. The number of dollars loaded into them is down a bit.”

And that means if you got a 50 dollar gift card from a friend or relative last year, don’t be surprised if this year it only twenty or ten.

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