NEWPORT BEACH ( — Orange County malls and shopping centers are projected to have higher holiday sales than in 2012.

The Irvine Company’s Staci Ellis told KNX1070’s Ron Kilgore businesses at Fashion Island, Spectrum Center and The Market Place is already up this year and expected to increase even more during the holidays.

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“We hosted the Disney tree lighting at Fashion Island November 15th and 16th, and we actually saw record numbers of customers out there and they spent afterwards,” she said.

She expects a big draw as Gray Thursday and Black Friday shopping will be an experience for the entire family.

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The Chapman University Anderson School of Economics projects a five percent rise in area business for the holidays, due to a better employment rate, cheaper prices at the pump and rising home prices.