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Time to start your shopping carts

Susan Wood
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Best Buy gets 25 percent of its business from the Lake.
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Today being the busiest shopping day of the year, South Lake Tahoe area visitors and locals appear apt to spend more money on Christmas gifts this season.

In an informal sampling of shoppers from Stateline to the “Y” this week, half said they expect to shell out more money for holiday gift-giving this year. Five out of 10 shoppers surveyed split their answers between spending about the same and ringing up less at the cash registers.

Most shoppers interviewed said they would blow the door off the national average used by The Conference Board, a New York-based national consumer research company. It claims U.S. households will spend $476 on gifts – up $21 from last year.

“We’d spend that much today,” Dana Hennelly said Wednesday in a bustling Village Center parking lot. The woman from Lake Oswego, Ore., was gathering with relatives from Philadelphia for a family reunion in Tahoe for the weekend.

Claudia Mohr and Terry Saltzman of Sun Valley said they plan to spend much less on Christmas this year because they’re remodeling a house. Even so, they’ll dole out up to $1,500 worth of items.

“That includes the dog,” she said, holding the leash of an energetic black Labrador puppy outside the Village Center shop, Two Dogs and a Cat.

On the other side of town, Cherie Long’s eyebrows went up when she heard the national average outside of Kmart on Thursday.

“We spend way more,” said the South Lake Tahoe woman, who got a jump on her holiday shopping list with her two boys. Still, she plans on spending about the same as last year.

Long said she takes her shopping needs to the “Y” area, but she knows she’ll be making trips to Carson Valley.

“I can’t get it all done here,” she said. “And I don’t usually go where the tourists go because I think it will be more expensive,” referring to the Stateline area.

Many parents said they may spend more money this year because as their children age, their wants become more expensive. Popular gadgets can cost hundreds of dollars more than a Barbie doll.

Georgiana Barton plans on spending less this year because of the high cost of living here. And she too gravitates toward the “Y” area because she will either refuse to pay for parking or likes to shop for more than two hours.

“I shop a lot in Carson,” she said, wheeling a cart out of Kmart Thursday.

From every which way, many shoppers got a jump on their lists.

The International Council of Shopping Centers reported the Friday after Thanksgiving reversed a 10-year trend of the Saturday before Christmas as the top day.

Jewelry stores accounted for the largest share of sales in the fourth quarter of 2003 with 40.1 percent. National chain stores came in second with 34.2, and electronics ranked third at 31.8.

– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at swood@tahoedailytribune.com


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