By the end of the week, the holiday shopping season will be over, and with that end comes the end of the busiest time of the year for the retail sector.
This year, retailers have noticed a change in buyers' habits and some specific sectors saw sizable gains.
According to the Retail Council of New York State, the most heavily promoted items early in the holiday shopping season were electronics and jewelry, which the council said sold "particularly well" on Black Friday last month. The Retail Council issued its second report on the holiday shopping season Wednesday, showing sales remained strong after Black Friday weekend and through the first two weeks of December.
Patti Jagielski, left, owner of J. Fine
Jewelry in the town of Johnstown, shows customer Heidi Murphy of Broadalbin an item at the store Thursday.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse sales figures show jewelry sales increased by 4.6 percent in November.
According to Rebecca Flach, a spokeswoman for the state Retail Council, jewelry's rebound is an indicator that people are starting to feel better about the economy.
"I think for the past probably two to three years, people have been scared into being careful," said Patti Jagielski, owner of J. Fine Jewelry in the town of Johnstown. "I think now they've seen that hasn't made a whole lot of difference. They've done without and done without for the last few holidays and they've had it. And this year, they're buying."
And they're buying higher-priced items.
Jagielski said diamonds are J. Fine's top-selling items this holiday season, which makes a difference because they aren't low-priced items. For the past several years, she said if she looked at a stack of receipts, they would have been below $100.
"Electronics are something that if you really want it at some point during the year, you're going to get it, but jewelry is special," Jagielski said. "Jewelry is something you can do without and that's what makes it special."
Electronics are selling this year as well, as usual.
"Electronics are always huge during the holiday season, and that's not any different this year," Flach said.
Top-selling electronics includes hardware and software, televisions, cell phones and video games. They also include emerging devices, such as e-book readers.
Chris Park, store manager of Ruby & Quiri in Johnstown, said TVs and stereos have been selling well.
He also said the store has sold more living room sets, bedroom sets and front-loading laundry appliances than in previous years.
"It seems that people are doing entire rooms over instead of just purchasing a couch," said Park, who attributed the change in buyers' habits to spending less time vacationing away from the home.
"I think people are not traveling as much and I think they're investing more in their home," he said. "I think it costs quite a bit to travel and vacation, and people are spending their money on improving their living environment."
Much of the Christmas shopping, however, is dedicated toward kids. For parents looking for something to get their kids, the Retail Council made a list of the top sellers for boys and girls. For the girls, Barbie and other dolls, Dora the Explorer, video games, Disney princesses, Zhu Zhu Pets, American Girl, Hannah Montana and Bratz are among the top sellers. For the boys, parents are buying video games, LEGOs, cars, Toy Story products, Hot Wheels cars, Transformers, the Xbox 360, Iron Man, Nintendo Wii and trucks.
"Usually when we start with the toy trends, it sticks around," Flach said.
Last year, she said, Zhu Zhu Pets came out of nowhere to be the top-selling toy. After talking to the council's various members this week, she said nothing like that has happened this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.