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Gift Cards could boost holiday shopping

This year's holiday shopping season started strong in New York and got derailed slightly by the looming "fiscal cliff" and Hurricane Sandy, according to the Retail Council of New York State.

Members of the council gave this season a "B" letter grade so far.

Post-Christmas sales have been hampered by the recent snowstorm, but the council said members are optimistic about shoppers coming in to redeem gift cards. Additionally, they're encouraged by the prospects of the long holiday weekend that is coming up.

According to a release from the council, "Fifty-eight percent of retailers polled by the Retail Council of New York State said their week-before-Christmas sales were better than or the same as their sales during the same week in 2011."

"All the tragedy that hit the [NYC] Metropolitan area had a major effect on how people shopped this year," one member reported in a recent survey from the council. Another member said, "smart, experienced sales staff," made their holiday season a success.

"Many factors contributed to the roller coaster ride that made the 2012 holiday season unpredictable for our members," said Retail Council President and Chief Executive Officer James R. Sherin in a statement. "Many merchants still saw a modest increase in sales and look forward to one last weekend of 2012 to boost their season."

Hot Sellers for Kids - 2012 Holiday Season

For Girls: Barbie, Dolls (generic), Furby, Monster High Dolls, Disney Princess, American Girl, Video Games, Dora the Explorer, Apple iPad

For Boys: LEGO, Video Games, Hot Wheels, Cars (generic), Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, Transformers, Remote Controlled Vehicles, Furby, Trucks (generic)

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