Retailers should expect a sales windfall early this holiday season as more than a quarter of shoppers will begin their serious shopping on "Black Friday," the day after Thanksgiving, and ultimately spend more than last year, according to an independent survey.


U.S. consumers plan to spend $655 on holiday gifts and an additional $316 for parties, decorations and other seasonal purchases, an increase of 6.3 percent over last year, according to the Shopping in America Holiday 2005 survey conducted for Santa Monica-based real estate investment trust Macerich Co.


The survey also found that 28.2 percent of shoppers will start buying holiday gifts on Nov. 25.


"Traditionally known as one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the day after Thanksgiving will again be a big day for consumers and retailers alike," said Garry Butcher, Macerich's vice president of marketing and consumer research, in a statement. "Although gas prices may have some impact on holiday sales, shoppers are still planning to spend slightly more than last year."


Shopping malls will be the most popular shopping destination, with nearly 64 percent planning to shop at mall department stores or specialty shop retailers. A majority of the shoppers will be women (61 percent) and nearly 48 percent of all those filling their guest lists that day will be between 25 and 44 years old, the survey said.


While most of the shoppers (77 percent) will begin holiday shopping before the end of November, men were found to be more likely than women to wait until the last minute, representing 63 percent of shoppers who start their gift-buying on Christmas Eve.


About two-thirds of American shoppers expect the economy to hold its own (45 percent) or move ahead (22 percent), the survey found, as consumers stay positive going into the holiday season and 2006.


Shopping in America was conducted among 3,780 shoppers in 12 regional shopping centers throughout the U.S.

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