Business shopping for 1124

Shoppers buy some festive stockings last year at Connors Gifts in Inverness. Family run for 25 years, Connors Gifts is just one of many mom-and-pop stores that are gearing up for another holiday shopping season. The National Retail Federation predicts shoppers will spend even more money this year.

Shoppers plan to spend an average $1,047 this holiday season, up 4% from $1,007 last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

And many Citrus County stores will be expanding their hours this week to accommodate all those shoppers.

“Consumers are in good financial shape and willing to spend a little more on gifts for the special people in their lives this holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

Shay said retailers are expected to import near-record volumes of merchandise ahead of the tariffs scheduled to take effect on a wide range of consumer goods from China on Dec. 15.

So what’s everyone spending their money on? The NRF breaks it down this way:

  • Gifts for family, friends and co-workers: $685.55
  • Food, decorations, greeting cards and flowers: $227.26
  • Non-gift purchases for those cashing in on holiday sales: $16.02

“Younger consumers are helping drive the spending increase this year,” said Phil Rist, executive vice president of Prosper Insights, which conducted the spending survey with NRF.

More than half of people surveyed said they will shop online. And not many are waiting for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

Similar to previous years, 39% said they would start buying holiday items before November, while 43% were waiting until at least November and 18% are waiting until December.

And for the 13th year in a row, gift cards remain the most popular items on wish lists, requested by 59% of those surveyed.

Gift cards are followed by: clothing and accessories at 52%; books/movies/music/video games, 35%; electronics, 29%; home décor, 24%; jewelry, 23%; personal care or beauty items, 21%; sporting goods, 18%; and home improvement items, 17%.

Here at home

Citrus County retailers are gearing up for the biggest shopping week of the year. Here’s a listing of their hours:

  • Bealls: Closed on Thanksgiving and open at 5 a.m. Friday.
  • CVS: All 24-hour locations open Thursday. Normal hours on Friday.
  • Dollar General: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; Normal hours on Friday
  • Home Depot: Closed Thursday. Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
  • Lowe's: Closed Thursday: Opens at 6 a.m. Friday
  • OfficeMax: Closed Thursday: Open at 8 a.m. Friday
  • Rural King: Open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday; Open 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday
  • Walgreens: All 24-hour locations open Thursday. Normal hours onFriday.
  • Walmart: Opens at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving day, stays open until the normal closing on Friday.

Contact Chronicle reporter Michael D. Bates at 352-563-3205 or

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