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by Teya Vitu

Holiday shopping is predicted to increase in the Tucson area with more dollars spent than last year despite the free-falling economy.

National holiday shopping forecasts call for increases in the 1 percent to 2 percent range, the lowest since 2002, but they are increases nonetheless.

The International Council of Shopping Centers on Oct. 24 predicted a 1.7 percent increase in holiday shopping, but revised that down to 1.0 percent.

The National Retail Federation predicted a 2.2 percent increase in holiday shopping Sept. 23 and is sticking with the figure.

“We expect consumers to be frugal this season and less willing to splurge on discretionary items,” said Rosalind Wells, chief economist at the retail federation.

On the other hand, NielsenWire, part of the Nielsen Co. best known for TV show ratings, foresees a 4.7 percent boost in holiday spending based on a survey of 21,000 U.S. households.

That tallies with what some small businesses and shoppers in Tucson report.

Kid’s Center, 1725 N. Swan Road, sold 5 percent more toys in October than last year and owner Jim Davis believes the trend will continue through Christmas.

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