Consumers Are Redefining Holiday Optimism

There are all kinds of reasons marketers should be upbeat this holiday season. Online spending is up nicely. Foot traffic and purchasing in malls is in line with moderately optimistic forecasts. And falling gas prices could easily translate into extra eggnog.

It’s the final hours before Christmas and for some it means last minute holiday shopping and it appears we’re willing to dig deeper into our pockets this year.

A booming economy and good weather have created the perfect storm for packed malls and shopping areas on this night before Christmas. Everywhere you turn, the shoppers are out in force. ABC7 News checked out the shopping scene at the Bay Street Center in Emeryville and found many people eager to snag a deal.

Finding parking at the Target in Emeryville is tough. Consumers are opening their wallets and spending big, with the procrastinators getting some of the best deals.

“You know you wait until the last minute so you can actually see what the kids actually want. I’ve brought them to the store so many times, they always gravitate toward certain things,” shopper Michael Bailey said.

Toys, electronics and those flat-screen TVs remain at the top of Santa’s gift-giving list.

“Everything ‘Frozen’ is hot,” Target employee Ali Mashhoon said. “All the toys, video games, movies, costumes.”

Shoppers appear to be looking for deals and shedding some of their anxiety about spending.

“Yes, I love saving. I don’t feel like paying a regular price for an item when I know I can get the last-minute shopping price. You know, stuff on sale,” shopper Tamara Brooks said.

One reason folks are spending more is due to the fact gas prices have fallen for 88 straight days. According to AAA, that’s the longest consecutive decline on record, freeing up money for Americans to spend on other items.

Financial expert Terry Connelly from Golden Gate University told ABC7 News, “In a wake of the recession people have been paying down and paying off their credit cards, and the gas price helps people looking forward to say, ‘I’m going to be able to have enough money to pay down this credit card usage I’m doing over this holiday.”

“Since the economy is up, money is a little down this year, but since I found a lot of sales, I can save more at the last minute,” Brooks said.

comScore, a leader in measuring the digital world says, to-date, there has been a 15 percent increase in spending over last year and to think, we still haven’t unwrapped those gift cards.