Shoppers get a "fifth weekend" to hit their favorite stores ahead of Christmas — and Pueblo are retailers are excited.

For stores, "I think it does make a difference," Greater Pueblo Chamber of Commerce CEO Rod Slyhoff said. "There are those that argue there's only so many dollars to go around and, to a certain extent that's true, but I think this gives you just a little more chance to get a few more customers when you have that added weekend."

Margaret Ward-Masias agrees.

Ward-Masias, the president of the Pueblo Downtown Association, says that this year's time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas days "is the longest it would ever be." (Next year, she notes with a tone of some regret, the shopping season will be unusually short with Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28.)

She expects bush checkout lines for stores, she said.

"Since it is the last weekend they can expect — probably (Friday) and Saturday and, if they're wise, they'll be open Sunday and Monday — it's going to be heavy. Men especially wait til the last minute," she said. Jewelry stores are an example of stores especially popular with last-minute shoppers, including men, she said.

Slyhoff thinks this weekend will cap another successful year for the area's merchants.

"I am feeling really optimistic that when we get the sales tax numbers for November and December it's held up really well," he said.

Merchants he's talked to are saying sales thus far have been solid but not record-setting, hurt in part by the lack of snow that always seems to put everyone in even more of the holiday shopping spirit, he said.

"When there's not a lot of snow, people tend to put it off to the last minute. That goes clear back to when I was in retail. If it snowed on a Wednesday or a Thursday during the Christmas season, you would have a bang up weekend. When it's just dry and cold and brown, nobody seems to get in the mood," he said.

On the flip side, shoppers will find nearly ideal weather conditions for getting out on the road and out to stores. The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with daily high temperatures in the low 60s to the upper 40s from now through Christmas Day, according to the National Weather Service office in Pueblo.

Slyhoff urged shoppers to include local merchants on their stops.

"I just encourage people to use this fifth weekend to shop locally. Don't forget the small guys, the small independents. I've seen some great bargains out there and there is a lot of good selection out there," he said.

The final Saturday before Christmas is increasingly becoming known as Super Saturday and more retailers are responding with Black Friday-type discounts. Some retailers also plan to stay open longer than usual. This Saturday is expected to be the second busiest shopping day of the year after Black Friday.

Kohl’s will again stay open around the clock from this morning through 6 p.m. Christmas Eve and offer special deals.

J.C. Penney touts its Super Saturday offerings that include 50 percent or more off an assortment of clothing items, household goods, jewelry and other merchandise.

ddarrow@chieftain.com