Shoppers hit stores weekend before Christmas

December 20, 2008 3:33:26 PM PST
The final rush is on for last-minute Christmas gifts. Retailers are hoping discounts will lure people into stores and save the season. Many holiday shoppers hit Chicago area malls Saturday to scoop up last-minute deals offered by desperate retailers looking to boost sales.

"What I bought was 50 percent off. You can't beat that," said shopper Ron Ariano.

With less than a week before Christmas, Woodfield Mall was a buzz with people hoping the closer to the holiday, the bigger the bargains and discounts would be. That and finally getting some time to seal the deal is what brought holiday gift shopping procrastinator Jerrell Hughes out Saturday afternoon.

"I got an off day. So, I decided to knock it out before Christmas eve," he said.

While some retailers say they got a much-needed increase in sales from shoppers who spent more than they did last year, mainstay's like Macy's aren't taking any chances. They opted to keep several of their stores, including their Schaumburg store, open 24 hours a day until December 24th, much like they have done for the past two years.

"We hope we can reach a customer base that we can't reach because we are not open. So, we hope to get that customer by attracting [them] when we're open 7 a.m. to midnight," said Tom Reis of Macy's.

Although many stores were slashing prices, some shoppers said the deals are either hard to find or just not discounted enough.

"I looked. I don't see sales yet. Places like Macy's and Penney's have bargains, but speciality stores for kids do not. I'm not seeing," shopper Maryellen Neal told ABC7 Chicago.

Industry watchers say a lot of retailers are still suffering from weak holiday sales, which began in November, and so far, are continuing in December. That coupled with the bad economy, high consumer debt , and a shorter holiday shopping season, has retailers scrambling.

" There will be a difference in sales, but it will affect the bottom line. They are just trying to move inventory out of the store. It's a desperate time," said Deloitte's Seema Pajula.


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