Strong Economy Brings More Holiday Shoppers Online and In Stores

Last minute holiday shoppers are filling stores around San Diego

Many in San Diego are buying Christmas gifts both online and in stores. The Walmart on Murphy Cannon Road was packed with cars Monday as shoppers picked out the perfect holiday presents. 

“I’m shopping for some last minute gifts,” said Cristian Miller who lives in Serra Mesa.

Despite endless online options, Miller said he prefers to shop in a store.

“It’s a little quicker and you can take a look for yourself,” said Miller. “Sometimes you order something and it just arrives damaged. You don’t want that, especially not at Christmas.”

A strong economy could actually hurt bargain hunters. According to San Diego State University professor Miro Copic, fewer items are on sale because fewer people are unemployed and wages are up.

Shoppers won't see the 50 percent to 75 percent discounts they've seen in recent years. There might be 35 percent or 45 percent discounts but that's much less than previous years, he said.

In San Ysidro, the outlets were filled with shoppers from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border on Monday. 

“We’re buying clothing and shoes,” said Mariela Lores, who crossed the border from her home in Tijuana to go shopping Monday at the San Ysidro outlets. “Everything is cheaper here than in Tijuana.”

Several stores in San Diego are extending their hours to keep up with the holiday rush. Walgreens will stay open on Christmas Eve until midnight. It will also be open Christmas Day, spokesperson Scott Goldberg said. 

Amazon is still the clear leader in online holiday sales but Copic said there will be more online competition this year coming from stores such as WalMart and Target.

“Online is convenient at your home and you can shop around. You don’t even have to drive," said Giao Nguyen in San Diego on Monday. "Good deals on eBay, for example. I bought quite a few things on eBay.” 

Sales on other major holidays this year give insight into the gift buying economy. According to a report by Adobe Analytics, online sales on Thanksgiving Day 2018 totalled $3.7 billion, up 28 percent from 2017. 

That made Thanksgiving this year the fastest-growing day for e-commerce sales in history. It was also the first day in 2018 to see $1 billion in sales from smartphones, Adobe Analytics said. 

The increase could be an indication of what is to come from Christmas shopping. Deloitte sound in an annual holiday survey that 57 percent of 4,036 consumers polled said they are planning to buy online this holiday season. 36 percent are planning to buy in stores. 

Another survey found that holiday sales gains could bump up as much as 4.8 percent. That's better than the five-year average of 3.9 percent. 

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