Holiday shoppers in a buying mood as economy rebounds

TACOMA, Wash. - After the early morning madness settled down, the second wave of bargain hunters moved in on Black Friday. And the mood among shoppers and retailers is that the economy has turned around.

All that is good news for merchants. They're looking for a rebound from the recession, and customers are in a buying mood. Retailers are seeing a lot of green.

"Business is fantastic, actually. We're really business this year," says Josh Bogi, assistant manager of the Zumiez outlet at Tacoma Mall.

The economic cloud that's been hanging over families the past several years is lifting.

"I think people are getting a little more hopeful, definitely," says shopper Aleah Steiner.

She and her children came to Tacoma Mall to see Santa - and get in their Christmas shopping - joining a throng of folks out for Black Friday bargains, including some folks who don't normally venture out on this busy shopping day.

Angela Borrowman is one of those who normally don't hit the malls so soon after Thanksgiving.

"Not normally no. But the Apple Store was having some sales, and they don't normally 'sale' their product,'" she says.

Some retailers nationwide expressed concern that some folks wouldn't spend freely because of economic uncertainty and worries about high unemployment.

Other merchants fret that Congress won't be able to reach a budget deal by January - before a package of spending cuts and tax increases known as the "fiscal cliff" takes effect.

But at the Tacoma Mall - the general feeling is consumer confidence is "up.'

"Looking at the parking lot I'd say yes, it's packed," says shopper Bob Riley. "You come in here and every store has people in it. And everybody is carrying packages."

Bob and Ann Riley also feel good about the ecomony. They're buying each other a remote-controlled helicopter - his and hers.

"I feel the same," says Ann Riley. "I was here the day before Thanksgiving and picking up something. And there were people buying, so I think that the economy is coming up and people feel more confident to spend."