Christmas shoppers indulging more than last year

UNDATED (AP) - Retailers have seen something encouraging during the usual Black Friday Christmas shopping crunch. People were buying stuff for themselves as well as others. And not just necessities like underwear and socks, but luxury items like jewelry, sumptuous sweaters, and even dresses for special occasions.

One shopper in Columbia, Md., said "Last year we were careful." But this Christmas she said "we'll do more." Major stores like Best Buy, Sears, Macy's and Toys R Us reported bigger crowds than last year, as did Minnesota's Mall of America and major mall operators.

But while shoppers may have loosened the purse strings -- at least in the early going -- Keith Jelinek of the consulting firm AlixPartners says they're still "very value-conscious." Many are paying cash, or using lay-away.

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