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Holiday Shopping: Discounts and Deals

Christmas season 2010 is upon us and Americans are anticipated to be shopping – but prudently. As a result, you’re in for plenty of discounts and deals.

Some favorable economic signs

The nationwide unemployment rate is still high but it’s not as bad as it was last year. United States unemployment was reported at 9.6% in October, compared to a multi-year high of 10.10% in the same month last year, according to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In addition, industry estimates predict Americans on a whole will spend more money this holiday season. The National Retail Federation says it expects retail sales to rise 2.3% in November and December to $447 billion in 2010. The International Council of Shopping Centers anticipates holiday retail sales to increase between 3% and 3.5% over last year.

Deals abound

Still, even with these positive indicators, you will be able to find plenty of Christmas price reductions. Sales abound.

Reports indicate brick-and-mortar chains Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, J.C. Penney and Sears are all discounting apparel, toys or other items. As early as mid-October Walmart announced it would reduce the price on a slew of toys, from Barbie dolls to a Nerf foam gun.

Retailers are carefully gauging shopper sentiment. “While consumers have shown they are once again willing to spend on what’s important to them, they will still be very conscientious about price,” said Jack Kleinhenz, the chief economist at the National Retail Federation.

You’ll also be able to find deals online.

Most retailers – more than 88% — are planning special web promotions the Monday after Thanksgiving, according to Shop.org’s eHoliday Survey. Those include online-specific deals, one-day sales and free shipping.

Amazon.com was offering holiday deals on video games in early November and dubbed all of Thanksgiving week “Black Friday Deals Week” with new deals every day.

During the holidays, the web site Groupon.com is expanding beyond daily deals to offer discounts that last three to five days on holiday gifts.

That said, at least one segment will most likely stick to full-price: luxury apparel and jewelry.

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