PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- If you're not finished with your holiday shopping, don't worry about it. Retailers are really pulling for the procrastinators this year.
We're in the waning days of the Christmas shopping season and retailers are running out of both times and Thanksgiving night, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are but memories. Online retail favorite Green Monday is upon us and the only retail holiday left on the calendar is Free Shipping Day on Dec. 18. Though a Google survey predicted that 44% of U.S. shoppers would wait until early December to start attacking their Christmas lists, the always-optimistic National Retail Federation says only 3.9% of Americans planned to still be shopping for Christmas presents by the last two weeks of December.
With the way this holiday season has unfolded so far, though, it wouldn't be too surprising to see shoppers still rushing around looking for deals. November was somewhat of a wash for retailers, with JCPenney (JCP) reporting a 10% uptick off of a terrible 2012, but Macy's (M), Target (TGT), Nordstrom (JWN) and Kohl's (KSS) all somewhat worried about same-store sales despite Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping. Thomson Reuters estimated that November comparable sales at several chain stores would rise 2.7%. Of the 11 companies they track and have reported so far, same-store sales rose just 1.8% That's similar to the 1.6% same-store sales increase Thompson Reuters reported last year, which was much lower than the 3.3% analysts had predicted.
You know it's grim when the NRF estimates that spending during the holiday weekend fell 2.9%, to $57.4 billion. Even worse, they predict that consumers spent on average 4% less this year compared with last year. That's especially disheartening for retailers who were encouraged when the U.S. economy grew 3.6% in the third quarter, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The 5.4% jump in retail sales from the same period in 2012 -- which outpaced the 4.2% growth from a year ago -- was also. And it's not like retailers have a lot of time to turn that around. Of the $42.3 billion in online sales last holiday season, less than $6 million was spent in the days following Free Shipping Day. The $4.3 billion made during Christmas week, though, was a bigger haul than stores made on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Free Shipping Day combined.
We consulted with the folks at consumer site Lifehacker and found the best buys retailers are offering this late in the season. While stores usually don't get into a really charitable mood until the after-Christmas sales, discounts on the following five items help goose the numbers a bit: