HOLIDAY INCREASE

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COLUMBIA - Both retailers and consumers are getting ready for 2014's holiday season. This year holiday shoppers will likely spend more on average according to a National Retail Federation survey.

The survey said the average person is expected to spend about $800 dollars, up nearly 5 percent from last year.

The NRF expects holiday sales to increase a total of 4.1 percent, which is the biggest increase in three years. This would bring the holiday shopping total to $619.9 billion dollars. This would be the first time since 2011 that the year-over-year increase exceeds four percent.

"Though we have only seen consumer income and spending moderately, and erratically, accelerate this year, we believe there is still room for optimism this holiday season," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "In the grand scheme of things, consumers are in a much better place than they were this time last year, and the extra spending power could very well translate into solid holiday sales growth for retailers; however, shoppers will still be deliberate with their purchases, while hunting for hard-to-pass-up bargains."

About 20 percent of the total holiday sales comes from clothing stores.

Britches, a boutique in downtown Columbia, said business has been slow during the summer and is now continuing to ramp up.

Britches Manager Mickey Moulder said the past few years have been tough for everyone.

"Everybody has been really tight with their budget, and now I think that people are starting to realize that we are coming out of the recession, and the best way to get out of it is spending, " Moulder said.

She said Britches will keep up with any demand the holiday season brings by stocking popular items and putting more staff on the floor if needed.

"If there is a big demand for something we try and get it in," Moulder said.

PwC US and Strategy& did a survey that said those who make under $50,000 will spend less than last year. Those who make over $50,000 plan to spend about the same amount.

One Columbia resident, Charles Tutt, said he plans to spend the same as he did last year.

"I haven't changed jobs so I wouldn't spend anymore than I normally do," Tutt said.

NRF's holiday sales forecast is based on an economic model using several indicatores including, consumer credit, disposable personal income, and previous monthly retail sales releases.

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