It is shaping up to be a big Christmas at retail. I saw a big weekend in the shops October 31–November 2, and from everything I saw and heard locally, this weekend was bigger, with the early afternoon looking almost like a Black Friday. Weather may be a big factor, with weather cold enough last Thursday and Friday in most of the United States to remind people of winter and its holidays, but not snowing in too many places. Gasoline is also a factor that favors shopping, with prices falling below the psychological $3 level in most of the country. This helps shoppers feel good about driving around to local stores for shopping, and it also means they have more money to spend when they get there.
Time pressure is the major factor working against the Christmas shopping season, with no indication I can see that consumer time pressure has diminished since last year. On the other hand, time pressure hasn’t increased much either. My expectation after seeing the foot traffic this weekend is that stores will be talking about the busiest holiday season in eight years, with online sellers also having a reasonably strong selling season.