'Tis the season, and retailers are loving every minute of it. The holiday shopping season kicked off in joyous fashion, as folks trekked to crowded malls and spent large amounts over the weekend.

According to ShopperTrak's National Retail Sales Estimate, registers rung up a 10.9% increase in sales on Friday and Saturday over last year's showing. While there are few guarantees in the fickle realm of retail, that's definitely a healthy start to the 2002 shopping season.

If the double-digit gains hold up over the next few weeks, most retailers should share the good tidings. Last year, discounters Wal-Mart(NYSE: WMT) and Target(NYSE: TGT) showed strong gains at the store level, while full-price retailers, such as Nordstrom(NYSE: JWN) and Saks(NYSE: SKS), struggled to win over the frugal shopper.

With Jupiter Research expecting holiday online sales to grow by just 17%, it appears folks are balancing online purchases with offline sprees. While e-tailers Amazon(Nasdaq: AMZN) and Barnesandnoble.com(Nasdaq: BNBN) have made free shipping part of their year-round marketing strategy, patrons still crave storefront displays and trolling the clearance racks in person.

In a few days, retailers will announce November same-store-sales figures, fleshing out the early holiday shopping trends. We'll see how close the National Retail Sales Estimate came to reality. But if you can't wait that long, take two things away from the ShopperTrak projection: Warm up to retail stocks, and arrive at the mall early enough to secure yourself a choice parking spot.