RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The countdown to Christmas is underway. That means the holiday gift-giving season is also here as many prepare to buy those presents and figure out how much to spend. 

Malls and retail stores add extended hours this time of year, as well as hire more part-time workers to deal with the sales crush. 

This year, analysts say we’ll be spending at a higher rate.

Consumers are planning to spend an average of $1,600 this holiday season, according to the retail analytics firm Deloitte, surpassing pandemic holiday spending for the first time. 

CBS 17 asked shopper Natalie Sober if she’s set a holiday budget.

“I don’t usually do a budget, but I have about how much I will spend for each family member,” she said. “I will exceed if it’s a good gift.” 

One of the surest signs of the holiday shopping season is the arrival of the mall Santa Claus. 

Today, he made his first appearance at Crabtree Valley Mall. 

He’s there in part to attract shoppers with young ones because those parents are also looking at online shopping options too. 

The National Retail Federation is predicting spending this season will be about four percent higher than last year. 

“This is going to be a decent holiday season,” said NRF chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz “The consumer continues to be driving this economy, and, you know, household finances are really relatively in good shape.” 

Many of us will use our credit cards to buy our holiday gifts and some shoppers say they try to exercise control.

“We pay it off every month so we don’t overspend,” said Jenny Mackey. 

The Federal Reserve says credit card balances hit a new record, surpassing a trillion dollars in the third quarter. 



“The average credit card charges 20.72 percent,” said BankRates Ted Rossman. 

That translates to an average balance of $6,000 per card which credit reporting company Transunion says is the highest balance average it’s seen in a decade on credit cards.

Speaking of cards, gift cards are making a big comeback this holiday season with about one-third of shoppers saying they will just give them instead of a gift you can unwrap.