Shoppers tightening budgets for holiday season

Montgomery, Ala. (WSFA) -- You either love it or you hate it.  Shopping can become a frenzy during the holiday season.

This year, many residents feel the pinch of tighter wallets.

"I'm disabled.  I live off of fixed income, and I'm just trying to do what little I can to make them happy," explained Edna Mack of Montgomery.

Stores across the area don't see too much of a downturn yet, but they're working to solve slow spending before it starts.

"We've set up 'door busters': great enticing items, 50 percent items, things that people need, and we make it affordable," explained Byron Mason, store managers of Sears.

Don't forget layaway, an old shopping trend back from extinction this year.

"When you don't have the money to pay right then, it really helps out a lot," said one shopper.

Buying now and paying later, however, raises red flags for most customers.

"We use cash for Christmas just to keep it in order and to keep the sanity," said Jennifer Handey of Montgomery.

Despite the financial heartache, seasonal stores corner the Christmas market, but more and more people buy the smaller item to save money.

"Candles [in our store] are economically a way to decorate your home without spending a lot of money," explained Karen Keene of Candle Cabin.

Still, families say spending comes with the season.

"We want [our kids] to not feel the effects of what's going on in the bigger picture," said one shopper.

So what is the bigger picture?

The Alabama Retail Association tells WSFA 12 News sales only went up .58% last holiday season over 2006.

The organization says retailers would be lucky if sales growth breaks even with last year.