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'Tis the Season to Spend Money

Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Or the most expensive?

Is it the most wonderful time of the year? Or the most expensive? For U.S. stores of all sizes, the full months of November and December can account for as much as 30 percent of a retailer's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation. This year is no different. NRF estimates that holiday sales will increase 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion, compared to last year's 4.1 percent growth. Another record predicted for this year? Customers will shop 'til they drop from the comfort of their mobile phones. The NRF predicts online sales will increase up to 8 percent to $105 billion this year.

Fewer people have expressed concern about the U.S. economy affecting their plans to fill their shopping carts this season. Only about 34 percent of people surveyed in NRF's report expressed concern. That marks a major reversal from 2009, when national holiday spending was just $503 billion as nearly two thirds of Americans felt the economy's pinch.