Will It Be Bah Humbug Or Merry Christmas?

Store managers and employees say they hope the economists are right and people will spend more money this Christmas shopping season than they did last year. The economists predict a five percent increase, and retailers are just waiting to see.

Business has been up and down this year at many gift shops like Gift Gallery on Pass Road in Gulfport. As the ladies transform the shop into a yuletide wonderland, they hope they won't be saying bah humbug at the end of the year.

"As we hear the economists are saying it's supposed to be a very good year considering the war's going on. We have many customers already coming in asking for items, Christmas items so as you can see we're preparing for the Christmas holiday decorating homes as well as just decorating the store," Store Employee Dana Pasley says.

Who doesn't like finding their favorite CD under the Christmas tree. Music is always a hot holiday seller, and the manager of this store says he's ringing up more sales than usual for this time of year.

"Usually spending doesn't start 'til right after Thanksgiving and this year I'm seeing' a little bit more pickup," says Archie Storey.

Storey says that may be because record companies are trying to dazzle shoppers with great deals on CDs. You can pick one up for as little as eight bucks.

"Everybody likes music. Everybody wants music. It's an easy thing, it's quick and it's a great little stocking stuffer."

One of Storey's customers says if she has money at Christmas she's going to spend it.

"I know we're at war and people are down and there are people losing' their jobs and everything like that, but it's Christmas. We're thinking' about the kids," Val Johnson says.

Retailers say they'll get a better idea of what to expect the day after Thanksgiving when the stores open early and the crowds are out in full force.