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It´s Shopping Season

The official holiday season kicks off today, with shoppers and retailers beginning their annual dance with people trying to get the best bargains without missing the best selections.

Cash registers are ringing as stores opened early to lure bargain hunters. Today´s traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year and retailers offered specials hoping to attract customers and their money. One employee at the Sonora Wall Mart says shoppers were lined up outside the store for hours in the pre-dawn darkness waiting for the early opening.

Some early bird shoppers say they´re out for deals, others to “get it over with.”

But unlike last year, when hot new game consoles lured consumers into stores, this year´s merchandise seems to be less inspiring. There are a few exceptions however, like fur-trimmed outerwear and such hot toys as Mattel´s Chicken Dance Elmo and Barbie as Rapunzel, and Hasbro´s Fur Real Friend.

The lack of must-haves, combined with a season six days shorter than a year ago, exacerbates what is expected to be an already difficult holiday, given the sluggish economy. A shorter selling season puts more pressure on merchants to react to best-selling items.

So far, retailers, armed with lean inventories, haven´t seen any signs making them feel more optimistic. The Washington-based National Retail Federation predicts total holiday retail sales will increase by four percent – the weakest increase since 1997.