Many stores are pushing discounts and other gimmicks for the last weekend before Christmas.
Research firm ShopperTrak predicts Saturday will be the second or third busiest shopping day of the year.
Here are some incentives planned for this weekend:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.: From 9 p.m. Friday through Sunday, a variety of toys, home goods and electronics will be discounted while supplies last. Deals include Cepia LLC's Kung Zhu Hamster for $15; a 32-inch Samsung LCD HDTV TV, including a $50 Walmart gift card for $348; and up to 50 percent off on selected cookware.
J.C. Penney Co.: From 3 p.m. to midnight Friday and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, hair styling and finishing products will be 50 percent off; blankets and throws, 60 percent off; and gold and sterling jewelry, 70 percent off.
Toys R Us Inc.: Open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday, the chain is selling Yamaha 61-key keyboards for $99 ($100 off) and the Fisher-Price Imaginext Motorized Dinosaur for $12.50 (50 percent off).
On Sunday, when Toys R Us stores are open 6 a.m. to midnight, the chain will offer $50 gift cards with the purchase of a black or white Nintendo Wii game system and Wii Mario & Sonic at The Olympic Winter Games; and 25 percent off Schwinn bikes.
— AP Retail Writer Anne D'Innocenzio
Perks for all kinds of purchases with plastic
Credit-card points aren't the only rewards you can get for swiping plastic this holiday season. There are additional deals at many retailers for users of Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards.
Who wouldn't want a towel warmer, a talking meat thermometer or a pen that takes video? You can save $10 off any purchase of $70 or more at Brookstone, that wonderland of bizarre gadgetry, when you buy online and pay with Visa. If Paula Deen bake ware is more your thing, J.C. Penney Co. is offering a special discount to Visa users, too: 15 percent off an online order of $49 or more.
Find these and similar promotions for Visa holders at http://usa.visa.com/personal/discounts/index.jsp .
Want to channel your teen's destructive energy into the latest "Call of Duty" video game or Kinect for Xbox 360? At toysrus.com, customers who use MasterCard will get $20 off any purchase of $100 or more of video-game consoles, software or accessories.
Each day through December 24, starting at 1 p.m., MasterCard is sponsoring a different discount, in limited supplies. Wednesday's, for instance, was $40 off an $80 purchase at footlocker.com.
Find these and similar deals for MasterCard holders at http://marketplace.mastercard.com .
Shoppers paying with a Blue card from American Express get 20 percent off orders from 1800Baskets.com on gift baskets of fruits, nuts or sweets — perfect for a teacher, client or other acquaintance. AmEx is also offering 15 percent off online orders at Children's Place, 10 percent off Kodak photo gifts and many other deals at http://insite.americanexpress.com .
— AP Retail Writer Ellen Gibson
Fingerless and high-tech gloves: Just right for texting
Let your fingers do the texting, even in the cold.
After selling fingerless gloves for several seasons to fashionistas who like to text, stores are now pushing higher-tech gloves for the same purpose.
SmarTouch gloves have metallic threads on the tips of the thumb and index finger, while Tec Touch gloves have small metal pieces in the same places. Both can be found at J.C. Penney Co., Kmart, Sears, Roebuck and Co., and Macy's, among other stores, for $10 to $40.
After fingerless gloves paved the way, these so-called "tech gloves" are the next step in the evolution of the functional glove, says Russell Orlando, Macy's fashion director for accessories.
But fingerless gloves remain popular, and Target Corp., which started carrying them in 2006, has 50 percent more this year than last.
"It's a bright spot in the accessories market," said Michael Londrigan, chair of the fashion merchandising department at LIM College in Manhattan, who noted that fingerless gloves have roots in the construction industry, where workers cut the tips off their gloves so they could pick up nails, screws and small tools. "This should become a staple."
Scoop up Target's Mossimo brand $10.99 bi-color fingerless cotton gloves For $10.99. Or find more luxurious $159.99 versions made of alpaca and wool by Maison Martin Margiela at Saks Fifth Avenue.
— AP Business Writer Summer Moore