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SALT LAKE CITY — With five days left until Christmas, is your holiday shopping finished?
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows 58 percent of Americans waited until two weeks before Christmas to do most of their shopping. Retailers know it, and hope for a big boost in sales between now and Christmas.
Pushing the shopping deadline and feeling pressure to buy are traditions for some shoppers. But just when to buy — early or late — is another question. Retailers compete to offer great deals for both early and late shoppers.
Psychiatrist Dr. Barbara Herzig said, "'Limited time offer,' 'short supply,' 'hot deals' force consumers to make impulsive decisions. They get an adrenaline rush."
Since the recession, retailers have seen tentative shoppers not spending as much as they used to. Many bought just the bare necessities.
But over the last two years, sales have picked up. Consumer Research Director at Reuters, Jharonne Martis, said this upcoming weekend -- specifically Saturday, Dec. 22 -- will be a pivotal for sales this year, even if consumers are cautious.
Tod Marks, senior editor at Consumer Reports, agrees that people are still watching their finances.
"It's still weighing on people's minds. They're trying to be, if not frugal, very responsible with their shopping dollars," he said.
You don't want to have any fuzzy shopping goals.
According to the Reuter's/Ipsos poll, only 14 percent of respondents plan to spend more this year than they did in 2011. More than half say they'll spend the same. One in five said they plan to spend less. Regardless, retailers bank on the hope that if they can get people in the store, they can get them to spend money.
So how can consumers stick on budget? Try channeling the inner Santa: make a list and check it twice.
"You don't want to have any fuzzy shopping goals. You want to make a list and a budget for each individual person and you want to sick with it," Herzig said.
But the shoppers we talked to said there's always room to buy just one more gift.
Spending the same - 55%
Spend less - 20%
If you plan on doing some last minute shopping, be aware retailers have saved some pretty good deals for the next few days. TVs and toys, we're told, are at some of the best prices of the season. However, some of the most popular ones have been sold out since Halloween.
Also this week, many online retailers will cut shipping costs and still guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve.