Guess what you might be getting for Christmas?

Research by Atlanta-based First Data Corp. may provide a hint to what you may be getting for Christmas.

The processor of credit card and check transactions said retailers capitalized on an earlier-than-usual holiday shopping season, with help also from Mother Nature, in posting strong purchases by consumers using credit cards and paying by check.

Sporting goods and hobby stores, and book and music retailers saw a 27 percent jump in business this year, compared with a decline of 11 percent a year ago. Electronics and appliance stores, and furniture and home furnishing retailers saw a 9 percent increase, compared with 2 percent last year.

Store openings and extended hours beginning on Thanksgiving, plus cold and dry weather, helped retailers in the South, including Georgia, see credit and other card dollar volume grow 10.6 percent, compared with 9 percent for the country, First Data reported.

The South lagged behind all other regions for every month this year but turned the corner over Thanksgiving and Black Friday, First Data said. A drop in gas prices helped give consumers more spending power, and the weather prompted them to hit stores for gifts but also to stock up on seasonal merchandise.

Not all retailers, however, saw big increases in card and check purchases, and some saw declines. Building supply and garden equipment retailers, for example, saw business rise nearly 11 percent, compared with 14 percent a year ago, and clothing and accessories retailers saw business rise 11.5 percent, compared with 10 percent a year ago.

(See also this report on how consumers went gangbusters with online purchases on Cyber Monday)

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