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Shoppers making last weekend before Christmas count

Some stores staying open straight through until Christmas Eve night.

MADISON, Wis. - 23611692

This time of year, it's not only travel that gets interrupted by bad weather.

Shoppers' plans to finish off those holiday wish lists can take a hit as well.

As the Madison area prepared for a big storm, shoppers were out in full force on Saturday during what is traditionally one of the busiest retail days of the year.

Retail experts say most shoppers will do whatever they can to get to the store either before or after a big storm.

Dan and Lisa Buol from Monroe found a parking spot and ended up spending several hundred dollars more than they did last year.

"Our jobs are doing well," they said, "so we had more money to spend this year."

But Jerry O'Brien with the UW-Madison Center for Retailing Excellence says that not everyone is opening their wallets more this season.

He says that retailers are seeing an increase in foot traffic but that it's not translating to sales. He estimates shoppers are spending about 10 percent less this year.

"I think the economy has gotten better, but income hasn't gone up hardly at all," said O'Brien. "So people's wages have not improved. So I don't think people think they have as much money in their pockets right now."

Some who were out, like Paul Martin and his daughter, took time to help those less fortunate as they shopped.

"Mackenzie getting her hair cut, donating her hair for charity," said Martin of his Saturday activities, "and just finishing up some final Christmas shopping."

But unlike the Buols, Martin said his family's holiday budget stayed about the same as last year's, meaning he had to rely on hunting for deals.

"Didn't see as many sales out there as I thought we would have seen," said Martin. "Got stuff a little cheaper, so it allows us to buy a few more Christmas presents than in the past."

Retailers are making one final push before Christmas, as many stores are staying open straight through until Christmas Eve night.

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