Retailers Prepare for Holiday Shopping Boom

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After a couple of dismal holiday shopping seasons, consumers seem to be ready to spend again -- and stores are gearing up to fight for the business.

Stores are not only hiring loads of seasonal workers, but sales are already being announced weeks before Thanksgiving.

Credit card companies report that retail sales are up more than 3 percent heading into this year's holiday season.

Wal-Mart has also announced it will offer free shipping on some 60,000 items over the holidays.

"Traditionally, shoppers have done a lot of browsing online, and then to avoid the shipping charge, they'll go into the store to buy," said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail. "But this is a game changer."

Sears also plans to open on Thanksgiving Day for the first time ever. Other big retailers, like Best Buy, Toys-R-Us and JC Penny, all plan to hire thousands of temporary workers for the holiday crunch.

And it's not just big chains that are feeling encouraged. Smaller businesses, like the Gourmet Popcorn Shop outside Denver, Colo., plan to hire more employees for the holidays.

"We're going through what appears to be our very best year we've had," owner Rich Van Hersett said.

Retailers added 159,000 seasonal jobs last month, three times more than last year. Experts say these are all good signs that the flagging economy may be bouncing back.

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