Shoppers, retailers prepare for Lights Fest

CHICAGO It's usually a big shopping day.

With today's economy, some shoppers are concerned about spending too much. So do you scratch someone off the list?

"Yes I am, quite a few people actually," said Ingrid Fowler, Rogers Park. "I'm just worried about buying for my children."

"For me personally, it's going to stay the same. Family and friends are going to stay on there. It will probably be a little smaller gifts, that's all," said Mike McCarthy, Indiana.

The unofficial push to buy gifts begins Saturday along Michigan Avenue. Water Tower Place expects to have its busiest shopping day of the year.

And that's because of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival; about a million people showed up last year.

"I'm looking forward to it. I always like the Lights Festival. It kind of brings out the whole city. And mixed with the shopping, it makes shopping real fun," said Gideon Rice, Hyde Park.

And that's exactly the point. Crews were working on the stage at Pioneer Court Friday. Family entertainment starts at 11 a.m. Saturday.

And, if you plan to shop, consider this.

"If a person comes to shop for something and finds it, they ought to buy it at that time rather than think about coming back and hoping it's still there because the inventories in the back room are not in depth the way they generally are during Christmas time," said John Maxson, president and CEO of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association.

And, because of the economy, some stores are slashing prices, hoping to lure you in early.

"We're definitely seeing retailers offering special discounts and incentives that they may not have offered in prior years," said Katie Lindsay, marketing manager, Water Tower Place.

If you decide to come for the lighting procession, that beings at 5:30 p.m. More than a million lights will illuminate the Mag Mile. And in the end, retailers hope you have this sort of attitude.

"I think everything looks pretty reasonable. And if we see it and want it, we're going to buy it. It doesn't matter about the economy. It's Christmas time, and we're here for the parade," said Susan Hagan, Kentucky.

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