North Carolina store owners are expecting seasonal spending to be a little higher this year.

The North Carolina Retail Merchants Association says consumers are expected to spend an average of $1007 this holiday season. That's up about 4 percent over last year.

According to the association, the most desired presents this year are gift cards, which have been a favorite for several years running.

But gift cards and similar items are easy targets for fraud, and the NCRMA is encouraging people to be careful when purchasing them, especially from second-hand sources.

And, being an advocacy group, they're also asking consumers to buy from local businesses when possible.

“I hope North Carolina consumers will support the local businesses that support what they care about in their community – their schools, their youth organizations, their Food Banks, and employing their neighbors," said Andy Ellen, president of the NCRMA.

The National Retail Federation expects shoppers to spend around $720 billion this holiday season.

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