After-Christmas sales start early

December 24, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Retailers tried every trick in the book on this Christmas Eve to lure last-minute shoppers. Deep discounts were everywhere in an attempt to salvage a dismal holiday shopping season.

On Christmas Eve, the sales are definitely out there and it's the last minute shopper who's benefitting.

"Something was $150, now it's down to $40," says Majid Akbarzadeh, a shopper.

"The prices drop as each hour goes by," says Pegah Akbarzadeh, a shopper.

At San Jose's Valley Fair Mall there are plenty of procrastinators, but because of the economy, their shopping lists are shorter. That's exactly what retailers don't want. Economists believe major stores will lose $9.4 billion in sales this quarter, making it the weakest holiday shopping season since 1969.

"I think there will be more Chapter 11s in the retail industry after the close of this year because there are retailers who've been fighting for their lives," said Terry Connelly, Ph.D., the Dean of Golden Gate University's School of Business.

Best Buy's profits plunged 77 percent after consumers consistently opted for lower priced items this holiday.

Nearly every store is offering deep discounts to lure in last minute shoppers, but some stores are actually changing their sales strategy this year. For the first time, New York and Company is having its after-Christmas sale, before Christmas.

"We're not sure if people are going to be spending after Christmas, so we wanted to make sure that the gift-giving people were going to get the best deals," said Stephanie Rosa, a New York and Co. store manager.

Everything in the store is 50 to 75 percent off. The same deals will continue on Friday when the store and most others re-open. Still, one retailer's store hours are giving it the competitive advantage it needs in this market.

"A lot of stores in the area are closed right now and we're open 24 hours, so they know to come here for those last minute gifts," said Kengi Donaire, a Walgreens assistant manager.

Walgreens is discounting toys, candy, and appliances. Because of the after-hours shopping, the store will remain at full staff this holiday.


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