Bargains & Bare Shelves For Post Christmas Shoppers

11:48 PM, Dec 27, 2009   |    comments
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BETHESDA, Md. (WUSA/AP) -- Shoppers headed to malls in the metro DC area Saturday, many with gift cards in hand, hoping to snag after-Christmas discounts.  While they found prices were slashed as much as 75 percent, they also  found a limited selection.

"Everything's been picked over," said Donna Brown, a 52-year-old hairdresser from Seaford, Del., as she sorted through what was left of the fleece pajamas marked down 60 percent to $11.99.

The post Christmas week is a big deal for retailers because it can mean as much as 15 percent of their sales figures. This year, it could be more important because snowstorms cut sales by 2.1 percent for the weekend before Christmas compared with the same weekend a year earlier, according to research firm ShopperTrak.

Retailers are counting on the days after Christmas to perk up overall holiday sales in a season that looks like it's been only modestly better than last year's disaster.

Many shoppers at Westfield, Montgomery mall told 9NEWS NOW that retailers were sending them a blizzard of email and text messages offering deals left and right. "Wasn't under the tree? Get it now at the Apple Store," read one ad from Apple Inc.

Knowing holiday shoppers would likely spend less this year, merchants carefully managed inventory for the season, buying less than a year ago when the economic meltdown surprised them. That meant by Saturday, some store shelves were practically empty.

The full assessment of this year's shopping season won't be known until merchants report December sales Jan. 7. Most expect fourth-quarter profits to be equal or just slightly better than last year, because stores weren't forced to dramatically slash prices to liquidate unwanted merchandise.

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