The consumer is loosening up, after several years of belt-tightening, raising hopes among retailers for happier holidays.
"I think we are doing maybe a pinch better," said Rosemary De St. Jean, owner of Rosemary's Heritage Flowers in Crown Point. "But in the next couple of years it has to get quite a bit better."
Retailers had a solid back-to-school shopping season, with August retail sales up 0.2 percent from July and 3.8 percent year-over year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Locally, customers already are planning weddings into next year and getting in the holiday spirit, the most important time of year for retailers, De St. Jean said.
Small retailers are getting on board with social media this holiday season to drive sales, particularly with younger customers who use Facebook and Twitter out of habit.
"Now is the time we look forward to, when we help people help themselves," she said.