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NEW YORK — All signs point to a healthy holiday season.
Shoppers mobbed stores around the country last weekend, but the retail trade actually started picking up earlier in the week due to rampant pre-Thanksgiving price breaks, colder weather, extended operating hours and a pent-up demand for fashion.
"This spells a very good Christmas -- a record Christmas," said Philip Miller, chairman and chief executive officer of Saks Fifth Avenue. "There's a general feeling of confidence and well being. The only thing that could get us in trouble is severe weather on peak weekends."
"There seems to be a real turn on the part of customers buying apparel," said Tom Gould, chairman and ceo of Younkers Inc. "We had a terrific performance the day before and after Thanksgiving, and Saturday. Coats made a strong comeback, as the weather finally got cold, and gloves and sweaters are finally selling."
Stores are generally predicting around 6 percent sales gains for the season and will benefit this year by having an extra Saturday for shopping. Christmas falls on a Sunday, while last year, it fell on a Saturday.