Shoppers came back in force for the holidays, right to the very end. After two years of recession, Christmas 2010 will go down as the moment when Americans rediscovered how much they like to shop.
People spent more than expected on family and friends and splurged on themselves, too, an ingredient missing for two years. The National Retail Federation predicts that holiday spending will reach $451.5 billion this year, up 3.3 percent over last year.
That would be the biggest increase since 2006, and the largest total since a record $452.8 billion in 2007. And a strong week after Christmas could make this shopping season the biggest of all time. Final figures won't be available until next week.