Last-minute buyers top off strong shopping season

December 24, 2011 - 10:15 AM

It's that time of year again for carols, eggnog, holiday cheer — and for some, a frantic dash to the mall.

Last-minute shoppers hit stores on Christmas Eve in a surge that is expected to top off an unexpectedly strong holiday shopping season.

Stores are expected to ring up $469.1 billion during the holiday season, and the final week before Christmas can account for up to 20 percent of sales for the season. Retailers tempered their expectations heading into the season because Americans were still worried about the weak economy. But sales have been so brisk during the two-month period that the National Retail Federation, the industry's big trade group, upgraded its sales forecast a full percentage point to 3.8 percent.