Stores Beg Shoppers To Come Visit This Weekend

Spooked by the (apparently mythological) low numbers of shoppers this season, several retail chains are pulling out the stops in an attempt to lure consumers in over the next 72 hours, reports Reuters. Seven New York-area Macy’s stores are now open non-stop until 6pm Monday. Kmart is holding a “64-hour sale” that begins tomorrow morning and lasts until 10pm Monday (we’re not sure if the stores are staying open around the clock, however). JC Penney is advertising special sales tonight and tomorrow morning.

According to a survey last week for Discover Financial Services, 42 percent of those questioned said they had either not started their holiday shopping, or had completed some—but not much—gift buying.

Getting shoppers into stores for the final days of the season is crucial for retailers. According to ShopperTrak, December 21-24 last year accounted for 13.6 percent of holiday sales.

“Stores desperately seeking shoppers on Super Saturday” [Reuters]
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. dame1234 says:

    uh, macys stayed open 24 hours in some new york stores last year… so this doesn’t sound like a reaction to poor sales, but a way to cover LY same store sales from a previous year which was probably planned early on after staying open 24 hr last year.

  2. wndrwmn24 says:

    Here in the Detroit area, we have a Macy’s doing the 24 hour thing too. They cited the good sales in NY last year for why they’re doing it here too.

  3. ogman says:

    I think what’s probably “mythological” is those phony increases in spending. Faking financial numbers is easy, as has been proven repeatedly in the last few years. Real world experience, gained by checking out “crowds” and talking to salespeople indicates a pretty good drop off.

    As for Macys, they’re just really busy trying to irritate their customers by sending out discount cards with so many exclusions on what you can get a discount on that an employee told me that it would be easier if they printed what you CAN buy on the back of the card. That would pretty much count the exclusion paragraph down to one word – Nothing.

    Here’s the exclusions.

    “Excludes: cosmetics, fragrances, Coach, Dooney & Bourke, kate spade, watches (fine and fashion), fashion jewelry, Louis Vuitton, bridge/designer shoes and handbags, Wacoal For Her: regular-priced Tommy Bahama, Lauren, Impulse, bridge sportswear, and Lacoste, For Men/Kids: Tommy Bahama, Polo/Ralph Lauren, Implulse,Lacoste, For Home: furniture; matresses; floor coverings; gift registry kiosks, All-Clad; Waterford China, Crystal and Silver; all electrics and electronics; Henkels; Wustof; Baccarat; Lalique. Not valid on special orders, restaurants, Everyday Values, Gift Cards, previous purchases, services, lease departments, morning specials,specials, Super Buys( includes fine jewelry Super Buys), macys.com,macysweddingchannel.com, wine.

  4. twoback says:

    Sell some Wiis. That’ll get them lined up. Heh.

  5. Miranda says:

    @ogman: Those are the typical exclusions on almost every Macy’s sale, and their credit customers are well aware of them. What it amounts to is: the high-end stuff is not on sale, and neither is the stuff that always has what they consider to be super-low prices (the Everyday Values and Super Buys).

  6. uricmu says:

    @Miranda: So in other words, anything that one might buy at Macy’s is not on sale.

    Actually though, this one doesn’t limit Levi’s, so it’s a better deal than usual.

  7. Major-General says:

    @Miranda: Ahh, the Macy’s discount coupons. I believe that the coupon is actually intended to clear out merchandise no one was buying, as anything usefull is excluded.

    Bed, Bath, & Beyond does the same thing.

  8. KillingMyBrainCells says:

    @Major-General: you mean the Bed,Bath & Beyond 20% coupon that you can use on anything in the store and the coupon never expires?

  9. logie-al says:

    I can say this, there might be a lot of people “shopping” but they are spending a lot less per transaction than they did a year ago. And more are just “browsing.” You can get them in the door with stupid sales, but they still aren’t spending anything.

  10. Brie says:

    Agreed on BBB mostly. There *is* fine print but it looks mostly related to high-end china and expensive names like kate spade, Vera Wang, and Versace.

    “Limit one coupon to a customer” – not true in my region; they told me I can bring in a stack of four coupons for four items and it’s no problem.

    Oddly, I know I signed up for their snailmail list, but the four coupons they send me every month are to Our Neighbor.

  11. humorbot says:

    Setting aside for the moment that all this profligate capitalism make me dizzy, do such methods really increase sales? I suppose it potentially makes things more convenient for someone who already intended to shop at Macy’s or wherever, but for those who had no intentions of spending there to begin with, I doubt they’re going to change their plans simply because now they can shop at 4am on a Sunday.

  12. Ola says:

    I just feel sorry for the poor sods who have to work those insane hours. I mean, I’ve been shopping late this year, but honestly, do I really want to come in at 2 AM? I don’t think so.

  13. Keter says:

    I’m not buying any Christmas presents this year. When I was younger, I couldn’t afford it, and I felt a lot of shame. Over the years, I simply absented myself from gifting occasions as much as possible to avoid the guilt of being the one who came empty handed. The people who were offended by this went away, which was no great loss, they were superficial and not to be trusted. The people who remained friends are still friends. Now that I can afford to splurge, I find I don’t want to…it doesn’t add value to relationships. I would rather take a friend or family member out for a nice dinner or do something else to spend time with them. Time is more precious than money these days.

  14. Keter says:

    Oh, and what do y’all make of a mall in an affluent area that is full of 60% off sales and racks of sale merchandise pushed out in front of the stores during the week before Christmas? Add to that lots of people walking around and very few carrying purchases? The stores look desperate because they probably are desperate.

    I think several factors are at work: most of us have more than enough stuff and we don’t need or want more; so much of the stuff out there for sale now is crap and what isn’t is very expensive; many people who used to splurge have run out of credit; many others are worried about the economy and are saving their money; and some are just sick of commercial ‘x-mas’ and are refusing to participate.

  15. mattbrown says:

    i heard macy*s has the ill after party.

  16. jrdnjstn78 says:

    @Keter:

    I agree with you. Seems like alot of people forget the “true” meaning of Christmas. if you ask alot of kids what the meaning of Christmas really is most of them will say getting gifts.

    I try to teach my kids that Christmas is not all about getting gifts.

  17. catnapped says:

    @jrdnjstn78: “I try to teach my kids that Christmas is not all about getting gifts.”

    Of course it isn’t–it’s about filling fat CEO’s pockets!

  18. ogman says:

    @Miranda: If those are “typical” then Macy’s is in trouble. I spent some time chatting with employees after I listened to several disgruntled customers giving them a hard time. The general feeling is that the discount cards are useless and only being sent out to draw customers in for a checkout time bait-n-switch. The employees say that they spend a lot of time offering apologies. I left my purchases at the counter and I wasn’t the only one. Next year, any mail I get from Macy’s goes straight into the trash.

  19. MsClear says:

    I have 2 gifts to buy. I don’t expect to spend even $100. I don’t care how that affects the mega corporations or the consumerist general economy. I just paid $2 for a dozen eggs. Last year, they were 79 cents.

    The US needs a new plan for how to generate wealth and middle class living standards for the majority. What we are doing right now is not working. I am not going to go into debt to forestall that long overdue reckoning.

  20. bohemian says:

    The malls and stores have been fairly busy but not nearly as bad as other years. I have noticed that people don’t have near the stuff in their carts and the typical hot items for buying are not flying off the shelves. If you wanted a Wii or anything Guitar Hero the stores here are full of them.

    I think it is a combination of consumer burn out and real fear of the economy on a personal level. There are fewer people looking to hire, wages are stagnant and the cost of basics is up. Even middle class people just don’t have piles of cash laying around.

    Many people are just on overload with buying stuff. How many new cool things do you really need. Add to that much of the things for sale even in higher end stores are just crap. Too many manufacturers cut corners and items just don’t have any quality anymore. Why spend more to buy something at Macy’s if it is the same crappy quality at something at Kmart.

  21. chrisbacke says:

    @ Bohemian,
    Where are you located? I’m sure there’s more than a few people trying for a Wii.

  22. diamondmaster1 says:

    I am one of those retail workers, and am getting out after decades in the trenches. This year has done it for me; the insane hours, and the equally insane customers have caused me to quit as of Christmas Eve.

    I should be starting my new NON-retail position after the first of the year–that’s MY Christmas present to myself!!

  23. bohemian says:

    @chrisbacke: Sioux Falls, SD.
    The last two times I was in Target they had at least one Wii in the security case. They also had plenty of Guitar Hero III and the 80’s. I figured those would have sold out fast so I bought the ones we were doing as gifts right after T-day.

  24. no.no.notorious says:

    they don’t want to mention anything about christmas or hanukkah, but they want you to go out and shop for SOMETHING anyway. they’re begging you to.

  25. Dick.Blake says:

    Doesn’t seem to be any lack of Yuletide spending in my corner of the woods…..

  26. timmus says:

    Judging by things in my town, car stereos, rimz, and pimped out tires are flying off the shelves. Maybe Macys needs to lay out a set of spinnaz and target the area wiggers.

  27. timmus says:

    sorry… “wiggaz”

  28. just_paranoid says:

    i can’t wait fot the after x-mas sales.

  29. just_paranoid says:

    @just_paranoid: i’d rather my kid be a wigger and buy car stereo’s and rims and have nice things than be an emo goth kid or a dirty butt hippy.

  30. just_paranoid says:

    whoops that was directed @ timmus:

  31. Pinget says:

    The traffic in my town has been 3x normal. I can’t imagine they’re not buying anything. The final stats should be interesting.

  32. ideagirl says:

    @KillingMyBrainCells: That’s not the co upon they send me, how do I get one of those??

  33. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @jrdnjstn78:

    Meh. I’m an Atheist. Christmas has always been about getting gifts. To a lesser extent, it’s about having the time to hang out with my family. But truly, it’s the one time of the year that I really get to treat myself. I eat things I wouldn’t normally get to indulge in, and I get to pamper myself. There is no shame in that.

  34. julienne says:

    Has anybody found a reliable source for retail figures? I keep hearing anecdotes that sales are down (DFW area) but no hard numbers. Also keep hearing that sales are down because of people waiting until the last minute. (My personal take is that people are tired of buying so much crap, but I’m old and cranky.)

  35. just_paranoid says:

    bah-humbug. i hate x-mas. well i like the weather, and cheer and all, i hate the capitalization. where i live it would be faster to crawl anywhere than drive. i guess i get sick of seeing my life flash before my eyes anytime i need to go anywhere. and being strapped every stinking year for money doesn’t help.

    they say money doesn’t buy happiness, no? but being broke is like a free pass to misery.

  36. SaraAB87 says:

    Most of the stores here are starting to discount things NOW (or even a few days ago they started) instead of discounting things after the holidays like they usually do. The grocery store I went to today had many heavily discounted “christmas stock” items. This is the first year I can remember seeing such heavy before christmas discounts.

    However there seems to still be a large amount of people shopping in the stores, much larger amount then usual, and certain merchandise items, like video games are picked clean while the toy department still has many things in stock. People are clearly spending less on toys and more on electronics and video games.

    I don’t think spending is down in my area, if it was down there would be less people in the stores.

    Don’t forget rude and non-helpful employees and cashiers and insane store policies such as sending out a discount that you can’t use on anything remotely useful and obvious bait-and-switch scams are forces that are actually driving customers away from retail stores and driving more people to shop online where imo, the real bargains are. When will the stores learn that these things drive people AWAY from the store instead of reel them in, sure you reel them in with the discount, but its not doing you any good when they drop all their purchases at the register and go tell friends, family and the internet what a scam store x is. What happens is you just get another body taking up what little space is left in the store to walk and a disgruntled customer in the process.

  37. damitaimee says:

    maybe holiday sales are down because people are BROKE.

    that’s the reason no one is receiving any type of gift from me until after the holidays when everything is on a bigger sale.

    holiday shopping done by me = absolutely none.

  38. uricmu says:

    Maybe the real problem is that the Christmas shopping season this year started back in September? That’s when I noticed the first musical tree playing around at my local Costco.

    The longer and longer the holiday season becomes, more people are going to lose the excitement (especially when it’s still 80 degrees out) and just get annoyed. I avoid all stores around christmas time because of the music. There is a limited number of times I am willing to hear that annoying faux-sexy song with that girl asking Santa to come sweep her chimney or whatever. As for Rudolph, I wouldn’t come to PA during hunting season.

  39. no.no.notorious says:

    @uricmu: very true. i also wonder how many people have opt to not celebrate christmas because they’re not christian, since thats becoming more socially acceptable.

    i’m religious and have always grown up in a religious family, but christmas has always been very modest. it’s been my non religious friends that get whatever they wanted…but now-a-days im curious about that statistic.

  40. JayDeEm says:

    I’m just lucky that my wife has the foresight to pick up gifts throughout the year. Not only does this spread the cost out, but it makes the holidays a lot less stressful. I went out early last week to get her gift and wrap/ship out the others (that’s my side of the deal). All of that and neither of us stepped foot into a mall or crowded shopping center.

  41. DamThatRiver says:

    Finished up my holiday shopping on Friday. Woohoo! Sorry retail world.

  42. efbegranny says:

    This year instead of buying things I bought my children experiences: tickets for a musical and a gift certificate to a nice restaurant for dinner before the show. And I spent less.

  43. madox says:

    My general understanding is that most “brick and mortar” store sales are being surpassed by interweb sales. That would probably explain why demand has decreased for people actually leaving their homes to venture out into the cold.

    As for those “mythological” November sales numbers, it could easily be explained away that consumers made their purchases early fearing a decrease in their home values come January. Or, of course, the numbers were faked.

  44. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @madox: Fake numbers? Beyond a doubt. You can’t trust numbers reported by the government anymore. They also doctor the definition of the cost of living each year so the numbers say what they want them to say. It reminds me of when, in Soviet Russia, the radio would blather on and on about record harvests and record factory productivity, when in reality Lysenkoist farming and Trotskyite business practices caused widespread crop failures and completely demoralized workers. The Russians had a saying for it… “Go hold your food basket up to the radio.”

  45. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @radleyas: I am also an atheist. But the kids in my extended family belong to young parents who are struggling, and the older people are struggling, and I myself am not exactly made of money either given that my partner has been out of work for months, but I wound up having to play Santa to the whole damn family. At least I have their company. There have been lonely years when I made Christmas dinner for myself and the cat. I don’t have to be religious to appreciate that people give a damn about me (even if it is only because they are grateful).

  46. thewriteguy says:

    people are probably indeed spending less thanks to the faltering economy. but it looks like that online store sales are doing pretty well this season. maybe many shoppers are also now tired of the traditional retail store business model. they would rather not go to a store to buy things, unless they really have to and if they can make a choice, they want to chose a pleasant, hassle free shopping experience. shopping during the holiday season is most certainly not hassle free.

    maybe in the end, if online purchases are factored in, the amount of money that americans spent this holiday season will even out and be similar to the total figures from recent years. but it’s the bricks ‘n’ mortar stores that are losing out.

  47. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    I usually dread leaving the house anytime during December and face the seeming madness of people who drive erractically (on cell phones of course)as if there is some kind of “shopping emergency” going on.
    This year it doesn’t seem as bad, and I have noticed that very few people are even putting up lights or decorations. It’s kind of depressing…I think the tanked economy, high gas prices, horrible housing and job market are really taking a toll on most people. I usually always send out Christams cards, and this year, even though I had specially ordered some, never got around to sending them.
    I’d love to see the end of the constant ‘Hollywood-in-your-face-bling-bling’ bs that so many want to emulate, and get back to a happy, normal existance. Hopefully there will be a backlash and a sort of “anti-materialist movement’ will be the new “fad.”

  48. Omir The Storyteller says:

    My family and I were going to go to the T-Mobile kiosk at our loal mall to upgrade our phones and renew our contract. This was on December 2nd. When we drove around the mall twice and couldn’t find a parking spot, we left and decided we weren’t coming back until after the holidays. This vindicated my decision to use a couple of simple rules to shop this year:

    1. Spend less
    2. Buy as much as possible online

    We did have to make one trip to $BIG_BOX_STORE to buy a few things we needed to look at in person, like a coat for my granddaughter, but all in all I think I did a pretty good job. Except for that one trip we avoided the mass shopping frenzy that happens every December, we’ve been done for over a week and we’ll have a better Christmas because of it.

  49. shades_of_blue says:

    I actually went to the mall on Saturday, what a mess. Thankfully I didn’t go for close parking spots, idiots were practically fighting over those spots. And spots which were available were I parked stayed available by the time I finally left the mall. Those lazy people missed out on several hassle free parking spots because they were too far.

    It was pretty much was a waste of several hours, all I wanted was a massage, which I got. Everything else I had no interest in, same old crap, no last minute bargains that I could find.

  50. LadyCarolineLamb says:

    What a nightmare, Shades. I was actually SHOCKED this month to find that with our AT&T (formerly Cingular) we didn’t have to go ANYWHERE to upgrade! For hubby’s birthday, I got him a $50 Razor (FREE after rebate) off their own website. Was able to login to our account, pick the phone line I wanted to upgrade, pick out the phone, then have them mail it to us. To my shock, when it came I found out I did not have to take it to the store to be activated. They already loaded a sim card for the phone/line. All I had to do was put the battery in, charge the phone, the turn it on to make a call. Once that it done it is ready and the old phone stops working. The days of dealing with ANY of those people are hopefully over. It was such a good deal/experience I went ahead and upgraded my phone (still the $50, then free with rebate deal) as hubby’s gift to ME, lol. :) I NEVER have my cell on or with me, but now I have a skinny Razor I can pop in my pocket in case of emergencies or important calls. I hated the bulky cell phones/cases.