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Report: Extended Holiday Shopping Could Hit $60 Billion

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Retailers shouldn't write off the 2007 holiday shopping season just yet. Consumers are set to bag $60 billion worth of merchandise during the next seven days, according to a report on CNN.Money.

Much of that spending—nearly half, according to one estimate—is expected to come when consumers cash in gift cards.

Michael McNamara, VP of research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors, expects that retailers will ring up as much as 17% of their December sales in the last week of the month.

"Over the last five years, the post-Christmas week has become much more important because of gift-card redemptions," said McNamara.

MasterCard Advisors did not break out how much of the $60 billion will be spent using gift cards. Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with NPD Group, estimates that more than 60% of holiday shoppers bought gift cards.

Some early tallies this week from ShopperTrak and MasterCard Advisors said final holiday sales came in short of the National Retail Federation's forecast at 3.6 percent growth. The weaker-than-expected results rattled investors Wednesday, leading to a broad-based selloff in retail stocks.

But stores could make up for some of the shortfall this week.

"Gift cards have transformed the holiday-shopping landscape and they have extended holiday shopping well past Christmas Day," said Michael Niemira, chief economist for the International Council of Shopping Centers.

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