20101124 holiday shopping season just around the corner 18
A customer at a Lowe's home improvement store looks at a display of holiday decorations on November 4, 2010 in San Francisco, California. With three weeks to go until Thanksgiving, retail stores are beginning to sell holiday merchandise. - 


STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Today American consumers are expected to brave Black Friday crowds to snag bargains. But not all predictions for this holiday shopping season are optimistic.

As Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports, one thing working against retailers is the calendar. Christmas falls on Saturday this year.

JEFF TYLER: If store-owners could pick, Saturday would be their least favorite day to celebrate Christmas. Gary Rosenberger is with the economic forecasting firm, EconoPlay.

GARY ROSENBERGER: Because Christmas falls on a Saturday means also that you're closed for half a day the Friday before. So you've lost two huge, huge days.

Many people could also take off the whole day on Friday. Britt Beemer with America's Research Group says stores will lose out if consumers take long weekends and travel out of town.

BRITT BEEMER: They've taken some of those vacation dollars -- what they're spending to go on the vacation -- out of their Christmas budget. Which leaves them less money to buy Christmas gifts.

There's also some evidence that consumers may be trying to spend less. Beemer's surveys show many Americans plan not to use credit cards this year. Again, potentially bad for retailers, since studies show that consumers only spend about half as much when they pay with cash.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace