Wednesday, Jun 20, 2018
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Shoppers feel the heat of shorter holiday season

BALTIMORE — With a shortened holiday season, shoppers are feeling the pressure.

There are six fewer days this year between Thanksgiving and Christmas than last year. And bad weather in parts of the country has distracted some shoppers from buying.

“I’ve been in denial,” said Ann DiAddezio, a York, Pa., restaurateur who was loaded down with shopping bags Saturday morning as she walked briskly past stores at Towson (Md.) Town Center. “It’s been one year where time just got away from me. I realized I needed to get to the stores.”

With Christmas drawing ever nearer, shoppers hit the stores in recent days. Some, such as Ms. DiAddezio, were making up for lost time. Others said the tighter shopping window instead motivated them to start earlier than usual, and they were working to wrap up gift buying on the early side.

This year, it felt as if Thanksgiving came and went and suddenly just more than a week remains before Christmas, said Karen Carter, who was shopping Saturday with her sister and nephew at Towson Town Center.

“Usually by this time, I’d be further along with shopping,” said Ms. Carter. By midday, she’d found a sweater at Nordstrom for her daughter, who is away at college, but was far from done.

It’s still unclear how holiday retail sales will end up being affected by the calendar shift.

“The snowstorms couldn’t have come at a worse time, right at the time when [retailers] expected shoppers to get back into the stores,” said Bill Martin, founder of ShopperTrak, which reports retail sales and traffic. “We’re a little short of expectations, leaving catchup work in December.”

The scenario could play out in a couple of ways, he said. Pent-up demand could propel shoppers out closer to Christmas and push sales up. Or shoppers could be tapped out after shopping over the Black Friday kickoff weekend, when many retailers opened their doors earlier than ever on Thanksgiving.

Carolynn Black, however, was feeling the time crunch.

“I am not even close to done,” said Ms. Black, who had come off an early morning shift at Middle River Aircraft Systems before heading to stores. She had bought gifts for only one of her three teenage children, but was taking it all in stride.

“They want what they want, but they’re not getting it because I can’t afford it,” she said of requests for computers and smart phones. “Christmas is first a holiday, time to be with family.”

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