Holiday sales figures buoy retailers

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - An early look at holiday season sales is giving store owners a reason to be Merry. According to a report released Monday by MasterCard Advisor's Spending Pulse, retail sales rose 3.6 percent percent over last year. The figure covers the period from November 1 through Christmas Eve.

It's a welcome change from the 2.3 percent holiday sales drop last year. Some analysts caution sales were so miserable last year, they had no where to go, but up.

Now, with holiday sales improved, the question is -- will the trend continue through the New Year? There were encouraging signs Monday at Town Center Mall in Boca Raton.

We found Shams Alsafar walking through the mall carrying more than one bag. "I'm still shopping," she said. "I think the economy is better."

Another shopper, Jan Dascoli, said she was spending, but being careful. She said, "I'm spending more on necessities, rather than getting gifts that maybe the kids don't necessarily need."

Brad Yellin, the owner of the Jake-and-Rockets store, says he just experienced his best quarter since opening two years ago. Is the recession over? "I don't think it's completely over," said Yellin. "But it is a good start, especially after the holiday season. I think things are looking up."

"We're seeing a ton of customers coming in," observed Mike Robertson, manager of Best Buy in West Palm Beach. "I don't know whether that's because we had some great deals, or people have more money, or a combination of the two."