The AP says that while last-minute shoppers are still out there looking for bargains — the holiday season was over long ago for retailers.
Deep discounts are coming, as a flood of inventory sits unwanted on store shelves.
Retailers’ woes were good news for the dwindling numbers of shoppers who could afford to load up on deals. With mounds of inventory still left to sell, merchants are expected to deepen the discounts even more the day after Christmas.
But if 75 percent off before Dec. 25 didn’t make shoppers splurge, will even bigger deals do the trick amid mounting worries about layoffs and shrinking retirement funds?
The AP says that aside from a big surge the day after Thanksgiving — shoppers just weren’t buying. And when they were — they were buying modest, practical gifts.
Even gift card sales — which usually sustain stores for a few weeks after Christmas as many of the cards are redeemed — are down. Shoppers either found inexpensive gifts that were too good to pass up — or were afraid that the store would go out of business before the card was used.
Analysts have kept slashing their holiday estimates. Michael P. Niemira, chief economist at the International Council of Shopping Centers, now expects that sales at established stores for November and December will fall 1.5 percent to 2 percent — making it the weakest holiday season since at least 1969, when the index began.