SOUTH PORTLAND — Christmas may be more than a month away, but that didn’t slow down Suzanne Porter at the Maine Mall this weekend.

Porter, her daughter, Jessica Bushell, and her mother, Helen MacMullin, traveled from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia to do their Christmas shopping in Maine this Veterans Day weekend.

“We are doing OK. We are going to get a lot of it done for sure,” said Porter.

While some retailers wait until the day after Thanksgiving, known as Black Friday, to entice holiday shoppers, Maine Mall stores are getting an early start. The holiday decorations are up, Santa Claus is holding court and seasonal hiring signs are posted in many storefronts.

Some retailers around Maine say they are optimistic about the weeks ahead, reflecting national expectations.

According to the National Retail Federation, retailers are planning strong holiday promotions and are keeping lean inventories that should help them weather consumer jitters.

ShopperTrak, which measures and analyzes foot traffic in more than 25,000 U.S. stores, expects retail sales to rise 3 percent this holiday season from last year. Holiday sales historically account for 20 percent of all annual retail activity. The Chicago company is predicting apparel and accessories sales will be stronger than other sectors, rising 2.7 percent over last year, while electronics and appliances will lag, up by about 1.2 percent over last year.

The Maine Mall is expecting a boost from a number of new tenants.

Craig Gorris, senior general manager, said he expects mall retailers to at least match last year’s 3 percent sales increase from the year before based on a survey of mall stores with less than 10,000-square feet of space.

Gorris said new retailers always generate more traffic. In the fourth fiscal quarter, the mall built out another 30,000-square feet. Old Navy is moving from its 200 Running Hill Road location to the Maine Mall on Nov. 16. Other new additions include apparel stores J.Jill and White House Black Market, and Aveda and The Body Shop, which specialize in cosmetics.

The mall is effectively filled, a sharp contrast to the empty storefronts during the depth of the recession when a number of national chains went out of business or scaled back.

“There is so much critical mass,” said Gorris.

He said a recent merchant meeting had to be held in the food court, because there are no other empty spaces. All 33 kiosk spaces are rented out this holiday season.

Gorris said the mall remains a strong performer — last summer license plates from 25 states and provinces were counted on one day, which may explain why Books-A-Million Inc. moved quickly to snap up the bankrupt Borders Maine Mall location. The new bookstore officially opened on Saturday, with about 40 percent of the staff made up of former Borders employees.

Books-A-Million manager Terry Prescott said business was brisk on opening day.

“We are pretty excited,” said Prescott.

Retailers in other Maine locations say they are seeing positive early signals this season.

Freeport Merchants Association executive director Myra Hopkins said a harbinger of the season, this weekend’s Girlfriends Getaway promotion, was heavily attended.

Although Portland Downtown District retailers wait until after Thanksgiving to pull out all holiday stops, there are signs that this will be a good season, said Janis Beitzer, executive director.

“Downtown is continuing to grow and expand. We are definitely seeing small increases every year,” Beitzer said.

While Canadian shoppers may be feeling flush, some Mainers at the mall Saturday said they intend to keep the brakes on this shopping season.

“I had to dig into my Christmas fund this year, so in terms of gifts, it is going to be very low key,” said Joanne Prequart of Saco.

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at: [email protected]