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All the stars are aligned to make this last weekend before Christmas a bigger shopping event than in past years.
The final Saturday before Christmas, known in the retail industry as Super Saturday, falls three days before the big day this year, giving shoppers a little more time to use a weekend for last-minute purchases. In 2017, Christmas fell on a Monday, which means by last year's Super Saturday, families were already starting to gather, and picking up gifts was nearly complete, if not entirely done.
This year's Super Saturday is expected to be the second-busiest for traffic in stores this holiday season, trailing only Black Friday, according to retail tracking firm ShopperTrak.
"Retailers are very reliant on [Super Saturday]," Brian Field, senior director of advisory services for ShopperTrak, told CNBC. "They will count on the in-store traffic to wrap up the season."
A separate report by retail advisory group Customer Growth Partners is expecting retailers to ring up even more sales on Super Saturday — a whopping $26 billion — than the $24 billion spent this past Black Friday.
Low gasoline prices across the U.S. are one factor expected to push more shoppers out of their houses this weekend for final store visits, CGP founder Craig Johnson said. Already during Thanksgiving weekend, gas prices were lower than they've been in nearly a year, thanks to a sharp drop in the cost of crude oil and a surge in fuel production driven by big demand for diesel.
The categories within retail that tend to outperform during Super Saturday weekend are jewelry (think Tiffany) and luxury goods (like Louis Vuitton-owner LVMH), Johnson added, because men are often buying these items for their wives. "And the male mentality in a lot of cases is: 'If we're not going to open the gift up until Christmas, why buy in November and have it go sit on a credit card?"
Toys and electronics, however, don't typically fly off shelves Super Saturday as fast as they would during Black Friday weekend, Johnson said. That's because shoppers tend to check those items — like collectible Hatchimals or smart speakers by Apple — off their lists earlier in the holiday season to avoid a coveted gift falling out of stock.
The weather across the country is another factor that could determine how many shoppers turn up to stores this weekend. According to Planalytics, a firm that analyzes weather and sales data, Super Saturday is looking to be clear and dry for most of the United States, with Maine and Colorado being two exceptions.
Planalytics said temperatures across the Midwest and mid-Atlantic will be warmer this weekend than a year ago, meaning shoppers in those regions will likely be more focused on buying nonapparel items versus winter coats. In the Southeast, where temperatures are expected to be cooler, the firm said coat sales will likely be higher.
Because of the expected mild and dry conditions, Planalytics said department stores, discount chains and dollar stores are likely to see a bump of $83 million in sales this Super Saturday.
"Any way that you look at it, people are [going to be] actively out shopping in brick-and-mortar in significant numbers," ShopperTrak's Field said.
Some retailers are extending their hours for the weekend, anticipating a surge in last-minute shoppers.
Target is keeping most of its stores open through Dec. 23 from 7 a.m. until midnight, and on Christmas Eve until 10 p.m. Kohl's is offering "marathon shopping hours" and will keep its doors open from 7 a.m. this Friday through 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. Old Navy will keep some of its stores open until midnight Saturday and Sundaty.