Thursday November 22, 2012

NEW YORK (AP) -- This holiday season, Burger King won't be the only place where you can have it your way.

It used to be enough for stores to promise discounts of up to 70 percent off to lure shoppers during the busy holiday shopping season. But the ease of ordering online and the sluggish economy has created more demanding U.S. consumers who aren't impressed by discounts alone. They want their shopping just like their fast food: not only cheap, but convenient too.

That means they're no longer afraid to walk away from the cashmere sweater with the perfect fit if the store is crowded. They're also unwilling to buy those suede pumps that are just the right shade of blue if they have to pay to get them shipped. And they cringe at the prospect of carrying a bunch of paper coupons; they'd rather be able to pull them up electronically on their smartphones.

Retailers from Wal-Mart to Macy's are doing everything they can to make it easier for this new crop of finicky shoppers to spend their money during the busy holiday shopping season. Several are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Some are offering free layaways and shipping. Many are matching in-store prices with cheaper online deals. And others are allowing shoppers to buy online and pick up their merchandise in stores.

It's the latest effort by stores to court shoppers like Patty Edwards. Four years ago, Edwards, who lives in Bellevue, Wash., bought all of her holiday purchases at online retailer