With only a few days to go before Christmas and the start of Hanukkah, Jersey shoppers are out in full force, going from mall to mall, store to store, at all hours of the day and night, desperately trying to find those last-minute gifts so they can wrap up their holiday shopping.

The final burst of shopping hysteria is exactly what Garden State merchants were hoping for.

According to John Holub, president of the New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, analysts predicted a 3 percent consumer spending increase this year over last for the entire holiday season, and the numbers for November look really good.

“Retail sales had a pretty solid growth, about 5 percent year over year, the sales growth, so we’re hoping that retailers are going to hit expectations and we hope they exceed them,” he said.

“This is the most important time of the year for retailers, anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of a retailer's overall sales actually happen in these two  months, in November and December.”

He said a strong finish is also important to set the tone for 2017.

“Obviously, you want to end the year well and hopefully have some momentum going into the New Year, but also January is an important time of year because a lot of people also do some post-holiday shopping as well.”

He noted since the recession eight years ago, consumers have a lot more information at their fingertips, thanks to their smart phones.

“You can be a much more conscious shopper, and so I think it’s understandable that consumers are going to look for the best deals that are out there and they’re going to wait for them if they think they’re not getting the best deal possible.”

In other words, last-minute bargain hunting is not really a game of cat and mouse, just the new normal.

“It’s the consumer being a savvy consumer and it’s retailers trying to entice people to come shop, but also not to the detriment of losing money, as well,” said Holub."We always say in retail (that) it’s a little bit more of an art than a science sometimes."

“For retailers, this is obviously the most competitive time of year, so it’s a very competitive industry and you need to entice people to come to your stores and shop.”

Holub pointed out with Christmas and Hanukkah only a few days away, “we encourage everyone to go out, shop. It’s also important to shop local, make sure not only to visit the malls but also visit your Main Street independent retailer as well.”

Contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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