Retailers optimistic for holiday sales despite shorter shopping season

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The fourth Thursday of November happened later in the month this year, which means Thanksgiving is almost an entire week closer to Christmas than in 2018. 

Shoppers we spoke with said they didn't realize they have six fewer days before December 25, but retailers are hard at work during the shorter holiday shopping season.

"The company did a few things to prepare for that," said Iris Rigg, a Barnes and Noble store manager in Wichita. "We had some of our sales release early, our signed editions released a week early, and some of our promotions and sales started a week early."

"I think people are starting to shop earlier in the season," said Towne East Mall spokesperson Sara Fleming. "Stores are offering those deals and promotions earlier, as well, to accommodate for those lack of days."

Some stores, like Barnes and Noble, are extending their hours this year to make up for lost time.

"There's some days we're opening early and staying open late," Rigg said. "The Monday before Christmas, we're staying open until midnight." She said those longer hours can take a toll on employees. 

"We work a lot of hard hours as retail workers," Riggs said. "We have to work a lot of hours other people don't, so we like to have a lot of fun, and I like to be a beacon of joy for my staff."

Some shoppers say the six fewer days will affect their shopping habits, but other said they're unfazed.

"I do a lot of stuff last minute," said shoppers Gabby and Mia at Towne East. "We don't really plan very well, so we always feel rushed. But, for people who plan, I'm sure this is a problem."

Overall, retail store leaders say they're optimistic they can get better sales than last year.

"We're thinking books are making a comeback this year," Rigg said. "And have been for awhile, especially paper books, so people are supporting brick-and-mortars more, so we're hoping... better."

The National Retail Federation estimates holiday sales will be up by around four percent compared to 2018.

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