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November 17th, 2010Holiday spending boost expected

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by Kevin McCallum

When Lynette Boisvert started displaying Christmas items in her Classic Duck gift shop in Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village in mid-October, she didn’t expect sales to pick up until after Halloween.

But to her surprise the ornaments and holiday decorations flew off the shelves, quickly outstripping sales of Halloween items and boosting her optimism that shoppers will show some holiday cheer this year.

“People are buying Christmas early and asking for more and more,” Boisvert said.

Her experience is bolstered by predictions of retail analysts who expect holiday sales to rise slightly this year and the shopping season to start earlier than ever. Retailers are rolling out their holiday promotions well before Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when many shops hope their business for the year will turn into the black.

Holiday sales are expected to rise 2 to 3 percent this year, a modest increase, but what would be a significant reversal of a two-year trend of falling sales. In the grip of the 2008 recession, holiday shoppers spent 3.4 percent less and pulled back an additional 1 percent last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

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