FARGO — The West Acres mall is already decking its halls with boughs of holly, and shoppers are coming in droves to get what they need for the holiday season.

The National Retail Federation said shoppers will spend just over $1,000 this holiday season, 4% more than last year.

With Thanksgiving falling later than usual, more people want to beat the rush, and some shoppers said they like going earlier so they can deal with fewer people.

"We like to avoid the crowds and come here (early). When you go into a store, you get more one-on-one attention from the salespeople, and I really like that," said Ranelle Hanson, of Grafton.

Some prefer to shop only when the timing feels right.

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Carol Simpson drove all the way from Winnipeg to get her holiday shopping done this weekend.

"Personally, I think we should wait until after Remembrance Day, but we come down on this weekend every year," she said. "It's been an annual thing. Some bridge girls and us — we just have a lot of fun."

A few stores offered sales even though Black Friday is weeks away, which led both Hanson and Simpson to believe shopping earlier wasn't a bad idea.

"I've never really gotten into the Black Friday; I kind of like to pick up things when I can," said Hanson, who's shopping for five children and two grandchildren. "And, having a bunch of children — when I'm here and I have the time to do it — I like to do it ahead of time."

"I think, generally, once you see if there's some sales or a product that's advertised, then, 'oh, I want to get so-and-so that, I better go and pick it up now,'" Simpson said.

With the holiday season being only 26 days this year — the first time since 2013 — time may run out quickly.

But some aren't worried about the crunch to get gifts home for the holidays.

"It's always nice, when you work, to be able to have a weekend (for shopping)," Hanson said. "You might as well go do it, whether it's a month or two months before."

That's good advice to keep in mind while making your house look a lot like Christmas.