The holiday shopping season has arrived, with many shoppers flocking to the thrift stores and gift shops as they look to get their hands on some of the most coveted items on the market.
Sales of $4,200 or more rose 4.4% from the same time last year, according a report from the WineStats site.
The rise comes as shoppers are still searching for ways to splurge on new and classic gifts.
The holiday shopping frenzy is expected to continue through December, the report said.
For the most part, the holidays are looking like a good time to buy, said Andrew DeAngelo, chief executive of WineStats, a San Francisco-based data firm that provides holiday gift sales data.
In fact, last year’s total was nearly twice the $1.4 billion haul in 2018.
DeAngelo said the spike in sales came partly from consumers who are buying gifts for their loved ones.
Some of them are also buying gifts themselves, he said.
Deangelo said the sales surge is part of a pattern.
He noted that while Thanksgiving sales are still the biggest of the year, they have been flat or declining over the past two years.
For 2018, the holiday season is expected with Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day on Dec. 25 and 26, respectively.
Christmas is on Dec 21.
The surge in sales is particularly notable because retailers and gift stores are under pressure to sell during a time of economic uncertainty.
In 2017, the year after President Donald Trump was inaugurated, sales fell to the lowest level in at least a decade, according the National Retail Federation.
Deacon said it is not clear whether the holiday shopping spree is a reflection of an increase in spending or the result of consumers finding a new, more affordable gift to make a gift for their family.
For many shoppers, it is a good way to spend less and get more than they could before.
De Angelo said the uptick in Christmas shopping could reflect the rise of online retailers and the influx of shoppers looking to make more purchases online.
That means fewer people shopping for gift cards, credit cards and other forms of payment and more people looking for something in the bargain category.
While most of the increased Christmas shopping is on display at the mall, there is also a surge in grocery shopping in stores across the country, Deacon said.
In the past, grocery stores have largely sold groceries, he added.
This year, many shoppers are looking for gift baskets, bulk purchases and other items that go along with their favorite brands, he noted.
Some retailers are trying to increase their inventory to better compete with online retailers.
The biggest retailer in that category is Walmart, which announced it will offer a new way for shoppers to shop at its stores, including gift cards and online gift cards.
It is not known if shoppers who are shopping online are looking to buy or gift baskets as much as they are to buy new things or try out items that have not been seen before.
However, DeAngelo said he expects that online sales will grow in the coming months.
The Christmas season is one of the busiest shopping periods of the calendar year, so it will be a challenge to maintain sales as the season ends, he warned.
Still, De Angelo said it does not seem likely that the increase in sales will slow any time soon.
“I think people will just keep buying,” he said, adding that people will probably continue to shop on their own for the rest of the season.