It's down to the final stretch for Christmas shoppers. Thousands headed to the malls on Friday to get an early start on a long shopping weekend. “I took the day off did a little bit of online shopping and picked up a few items for the wife,” said Paul Fromm. The National Retail Federation is predicting a four percent increase in holiday sales this year. But even as stores are slashing prices to entice shoppers, retailers are keeping their fingers crossed. “It’s looking very positive. I think a lot of people had today off of work and they started their shopping and as you can see traffics really picking up now,” said Marketplace spokesperson Kara Selke. “Nationally as you look at it its been one of the toughest holiday seasons that we've seen in many years,” said RIT Marketing professor Eugene Fram. Fram says even with the long weekend retailers have to make up a lot of ground. “Not only has the economy be hit with the sub prime and the increase in the cost of food, increase in the cost of gasoline, but the Midwest in particular has been clobbered with the heavy snowstorms which in some areas deleted virtually a weeks business which is substantial this time of year,” said Fram. Despite what may be an uphill battle retailers remain optimistic the long weekend will give them the momentum they need to finish out the year in the black. We’re looking at a very, very busy Saturday and Sunday. We've gained that extra weekend that we didn't have last year my advise is come out early and get here early before the lines form," said Selke.