CHICAGO (CBS) — It was supposed to be a record Christmas for retailers, but now that Santa has come and gone experts say sales numbers have fallen short.

Ten days before Christmas, the National Retail Federation was predicting holiday sales would be up 3.8 percent, with shoppers expected to spend a record $469 billion. But on Tuesday, officials said sales were only expected to rise 3 percent.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, the shortfall is bad news for retailers, but good news for consumers.

Experts based their predictions of record sales on a booming Black Friday when shoppers spent a record $11 billion. It looked like a very Merry Christmas for retailers, but then the Grinch showed up.

“Black Friday looked great with a capital G,” said R.J. Hottovy, Director of equity analysis for Morningstar. “Unfortunately that momentum didn’t last. Consumers were looking for any way to stretch their budget this year. So, as a result we saw a lot of discounting and consumers really going for that big doorbuster item, but taking a pass on other items.”

Because there were so many discounts this year, Hottovy says consumers actually bought more and spent less.

“I was very smart when I shopped. I looked for a lot of specials,” said shopper Sapna Machen. “I bought stuff that was worth more for less money and I got to buy more people gifts that way.”

A 15% increase in consumers shopping online also added to the decrease in brick and mortar sales this year.

But a decline in retail sales means too much inventory and good news for shoppers.

Experts say you’ll find discounts in almost every category and the best deals will be in consumer electronics and apparel

“If you didn’t get that flat panel TV or that sweater or that particular outfit you wanted, you may be able to find a good deal in this situation,” added Hottovy.

Department stores are expected to offer the best bargains, because they have the largest inventory.

Experts say you’ll also find online deals, but the discounts won’t be as deep.

Dorothy Tucker