Don't be surprised if you don't find that gift you want under the Christmas tree.
The worrisome economy has turned shoppers into procrastinators this season, according to a survey released by the National Retail Federation.
The average person had completed 46.7% of their Hanukkah and Christmas shopping by the end of the second week of December --- the lowest percentage since 2004.
The 2009 Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, also found that nearly 42 million people (19.1%) had not even started buying gifts as of late last week.
The news is worrisome considering how much retailers rely on the season to carry them toward the profit mark. America's Research Group, a consumer behavior research firm, predicted sales to be down 2.5 to 4.5% this year. These last few days would be crucial for retailers as they try to get procrastinators to part with their cash.
Th good news for consumers is there will be sweet deals right until the very end.
The Dallas Morning News reports that some retailers are trying to decide if they should put the entire store on sale. Others are relying on aggressive promotions.
"Retailers know the final lap counts the most and are planning to emphasize promotions and discounts to bring in last-minute shoppers," said Tracy Mullin, president and CEO of NRF, in a press release. "As Christmas Day creeps closer, retailers will be ready for an influx of procrastinators, from those who are checking the final names off their list to millions who haven't even started shopping."
Consumers procastinating this holiday season, survey finds