Joseph Knox of Essex, Mo., browses Tuesday at PMac Music in Cape Girardeau. Knox said he was planning on spending less this holiday season due to the economy.
The Columbia, Mo., resident has already bought Christmas presents for family and friends he's visiting in Southeast Missouri. On Tuesday, Sept was enjoying a few minutes inside PMac Music in Cape Girardeau, searching for a CD for himself.
By shopping early, Sept said, he'll avoid the thousands of shoppers expected to take part in the traditional beginning of the Christmas shopping season Friday.
"This is much more convenient," Sept said. "I don't want to deal with the hassle."
PMac co-owner Paul MacDougall said customers at his shop seem to be more cautious in their holiday shopping this year.
"I see people being very careful and doing a lot of looking around before they make a purchase," MacDougall said. "They're less on impulse buying and more on thinking things out."
Southeast Missourians will join the 128 million people estimated by the National Retail Federation who will shop Friday, Saturday or Sunday. That number is down from 135 million people who indicated they would shop over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2007.
This holiday season, the retail organization predicts consumers will spend $470 billion.
Like Sept, Printice Willis of New Madrid, Mo., was getting an early start on his Christmas shopping Tuesday morning. Willis was at West Park Mall in Cape Girardeau with family members.
"The economy is tough enough," Willis said. "This year I'm shopping at stores that cost less for items that I want the most, such as clothes and shoes."
In downtown Cape Girardeau, Sandi Williams of Cape Girardeau was one of the first customers of the day Tuesday to visit Renaissance. Williams was shopping at the boutique shop for her husband and their three children.
This year, Williams plans to spend about the same amount of money but on fewer gifts. She said most of her family will receive a couple of more expensive presents rather than several smaller-priced ones.
While Williams said she may patronize one of the larger retail stores Black Friday, she plans to buy most of her presents beforehand.
"If I don't shop early, I may not be able to find what people on my list want for Christmas," Williams said. "If I don't go early, I won't get it."
Beverly Hahs of Cape Girardeau said she usually waits until after Black Friday to do most of her shopping. That's when Hahs said she grabs the best bargains for her family, who are scattered in North Carolina, Texas and Missouri.
"I have to wait until I'm in the right mood," said Hahs, who was shopping in Pastimes Antiques in downtown Cape Girardeau on Tuesday. "My mood isn't here yet, but I suspect it will be once Friday gets here."
Hahs said the deals being offered to customers this holiday season can't come at a better time.
"Those sales help a lot of families whose finances have been cut," she said.
While millions of Americans will be spending their Friday at a local store, others like Mary Talbut of Jackson are opting for shopping online as she searches for the best deals available.
"I am plotting my course of action now," Talbut said. "If I can find the link of what I want, I always send it to my husband and somehow it ends up under the tree for Christmas for me. He is happy, and so am I.
"But certain items are only available if you are at the store, so that is part of the strategy," she said. "If I can get it online, then I will; otherwise, depending upon the item, I will be out early on Friday morning."
Even with the online shopping option, Talbut said the economy has caused her to spend less money on gifts this year.
"This feeling of uncertainty is making me work hard to pay off bills and be careful with spending overall," Talbut said.