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Holiday Sales Estimates Revised Up

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Thanks to the happy circumstance of a legal holiday the day after Christmas, retailers are hoping that Monday will turn out to contribute to record holiday sales for 2011.

The prospects are so hopeful that the National Retail Federation upped its forecast for the season to an increase of 3.8%, expecting shoppers to drop an estimated $461.9 billion on holiday goodies.

Because the day after Christmas this year was a Monday, and not a prime football day or a Sunday beset by blue law restrictions (like 2010), retail research company ShopperTrak expected 60% more traffic at stores in the wake of the holiday as people with the day off hit the aisles to take advantage of an opportunity to bargain-hunt.

An American Express survey revealed that the number of Americans who planned to shop the day after Christmas was 57%, up from 43% in 2010. More than 20% of them will be looking to splurge with gift cards they received, and 36% said they would be buying themselves presents.

Many Americans put off spending until the last minute, sometimes even till after the holidays because they lacked the funds to shop–or were hoping for more bang for the buck in massive after-Christmas sales. Although personal income rose 0.1% in November, according to the Department of Commerce, personal disposable income fell by $5 billion (less than 0.1%, but still at a bad time of the year for Christmas shoppers). In October, both had risen instead.

Looking for the best bargains? According to Dealnews, you need to go to the store, not shop online. Bricks-and-mortar stores will be offering the biggest deals as they seek to divest themselves of merchandise before shoppers’ appetites wane. Look for big discounts and special offers, including coupons, that might make you glad you waited.