A man passes by a storefront window display in Pasadena, Calif.
A man passes by a storefront window display in Pasadena, Calif. - 
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Kai Ryssdal: There are three full days and a scant few shopping hours left until Christmas. The good retail news is that early reports show Americans are buying more this holiday season. That'll be a nice boost when the final numbers come out after the holidays. The bad news, though, is that if you've waited 'til the last minute, you might be out of luck.

Marketplace's Jennifer Collins reports.

Jennifer Collins: Retail analyst Jennifer Black says Old Navy had quite the pajama sale last weekend -- maybe you'd call it more of a "pajama rush."

Jennifer Black: The next day there were no pajamas in the entire chain.

O.K., almost.

Black: There were a few left online that were large sizes that were weird prints.

Black says the recession made retailers cautious.

Black: Because they were terrified and consumers weren't buying anything. And so how do they order for the next year? Well, they didn't order very much.

And that she says is why Coach, for instance, sold out of in-demand bags. Amazon's been having trouble keeping the Kindle in stock. And when it comes to toys like Dance Star Mickey, yeah, there are reports Mickey hasn't exactly been "in the house" everywhere. Scott Krugman of the National Retail Federation says the shelves are not totally bare. Stores are just playing it safe.

Scott Krugman: Because of that, we're not seeing unplanned mark downs and I think that means the industry got it right.

Mike Walden, a consumer economist at North Carolina State University, says merchants could see this holiday season as a green light to stock more next year.

Mike Walden: That, however, could set them up for some what of a disaster if we don't see the economy perhaps maintain this nice rebound.

Or, say others, maybe Santa will just leave a lot more rainchecks in stockings for years to come.

I'm Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.